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Friday, May 4, 2012

Talking To Strangers

When we were small, our mothers told us time and time again not to talk to strangers. It was good advice back then, but sadly, most of us have continued to heed this well intended counsel long past its best before date.

Now that childhood is behind us, the benefits of talking to strangers far  outweigh the risks. It is amazing how much we can learn from people we don’t know… and how enjoyable that experience can be for all parties involved.

In the vast majority of cases, all you need to do is smile and initiate the conversation with a few simple questions like “How are you?”; “Where are you from?”and/or “What do you do?”  

You’ll be amazed at how simply asking these questions of total strangers (and doing so often) will make you far more comfortable, confident and competent on those dreaded occasions when you are called on to make presentations at work, or speak out in social situations.

If, like most of us, you are a service provider and/or in sales, make it a regular practice in the workplace and I suspect you'll find your job will get much easier, not to mention more rewarding. After all, a little friendly conversation can only enhance the customer experience… and increases sales!

For these reasons and more, I have made ‘talking to strangers’ not only a personal habit, but also a regular and often mandatory assignment for all of my public speaking and customer experience workshops; and the feedback has been very positive indeed.  

So next time you’re queued up at the grocery store checkout, on an elevator, or riding the bus, put away your Blackberry, iPhone, or whatever little electronic device you are addicted to, and strike up a real conversation with a total stranger? You’ll likely find that face-to-face communications is the still the most powerful of the social media.

If we all just spent a little more time talking to strangers, especially those from different cultures, generations and belief systems, we’d all be a little happier... and maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place.

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