Humans have a fundamental need to belong, but at the same time, we avoid talking to strangers. How can we reconcile this contradiction? One day I had a bit of an a-ha moment: Maybe people aren’t talking to each other because they don’t know how?! To address this possibility, I developed a How to Talk to Strangers workshop that I have now facilitated 6 times, for:
- Employees of Surrey County Council (2021)
- Volunteers and members of the general public, hosted by Eden Communities (twice in 2021)
- Students in the Law department at the University of Essex (2016)
- Members of the general public at Talk to Me Day 2016
- Volunteers at the Tate Modern art gallery (2016)
- Members of the general public at the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2015
- Members of the general public at Talk to Me Day 2015
- Social entrepreneurs at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (2015)
A small part of the data that I collected at these workshops has now been published here:
Sandstrom, G.M., & Boothby, E.J. (2021). Why do people avoid talking to strangers? A mini meta-analysis of predicted fears and actual experiences talking to a stranger. Self and Identity, 20(1), 47-71.
Boothby, E.J., Cooney, G., Sandstrom, G.M., & Clark, M.S. (2018). The liking gap in conversations: Do people like us more than we think? Psychological Science, 29(11), 1742–1756.
In the workshop, we talk (and brainstorm) about:
- The benefits of talking to strangers
- The fears people have about talking to strangers
- How to start conversations
- How to end conversations
- How to deal with uncomfortable situations (e.g., the conversation is not going smoothly, you feel uncomfortable/unsafe, you discover they are hitting on you)
- Rejection – what does it look like, and what does it mean
If you are interested in inviting me to facilitate a workshop, please contact me for more information. If you’d like to facilitate your own workshop, I’d be happy to have a chat, and tell you how I’ve organized mine.