I talk to strangers. Even on the Tube in London. I haven’t always done this, but I’ve always seen it – both of my parents regularly talk to strangers. I admit, I found it a bit embarrassing as a kid. And annoying: going grocery shopping with my Dad was torture, because it would take SOOOO long. But I could see how much my parents enjoyed it, and how much the people they talked to enjoyed it, and how we sometimes learned new things. I also learned that you can develop skills; my Dad often uses the same opening lines, especially when talking to kids, because he’s learned that they get people talking.
The first time I remember deliberately starting a chat with a stranger was on the subway in Toronto. It was at a time when there was a wave of amazing cupcake shops, and this lady on the subway was carrying a beautiful cupcake. I started talking about the cupcake, but ended up learning from her that people can ride ostriches! I was hooked. Since then I’ve had many adventures #Talking2Strangers, and I’ve made it a central topic of my research.
Department of Psychology