MYTH: Don’t Talk to Strangers

Disclaimer: Written under the assumption that all readers are over the age of 10 and know that I’m not referring to strangers who lure people into their cars with candy.

“There are no strangers, only friends you have not met yet.” –William Butler Yeats

I’m an ENFJ.  If you’ve ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, you know that the letter “E” stands for Extrovert (vs. I – Introvert). The “E” vs. “I” portion of the test is based on where a person gets his/her energy.  I’ve taken the test at three different points of my life and every time I’ve scored off the charts on the “E” side.  Shocking, I know.  I’ve been told that, even as a toddler, I would stand up on my seat on the airplane to talk to the people in the row behind me and walk around singing Little Orphan Annie’s greatest hits with randoms in public places.  My parents must have done a pretty good scare job on me about the “bad strangers” early on because, G-d knows, I was clearly a prefect target.

But, the truth is, I’ve learned that talking to strangers can be not only liberating, but rewarding. My motto is that you never know who you’re going to meet….in the grocery store line, waiting for the light to change at a crosswalk or while sitting alone at your neighborhood bar.  I know what you’re thinking “Who talks to people while waiting for the light to change at a crosswalk?” Me – I do. And, why not?

As a recruiter, I make my living by talking to strangers – everyday. I make cold-calls to people who, within the first hour of talking to me, share things they may not tell their best friends. The tell me how much money they make (the REAL amount), that they are trying to have a baby, are having an affair with their boss and are afraid of being caught by HR, and that they actually were fired from their last three jobs and the reasons why.  And, eventually, our lives are impacted by that one cold-call. Now they have a new, better job, and I earned my keep. And sometimes it’s bigger than that. Maybe we become friends, we do business years later…or they name their babies after me (hey – you never know!).

So, I ask you, when was the last time you talked to a stranger?  When was the last time you chatted up someone at your local Starbucks, on the bus, at the gym OR was approached by someone who wanted to talk to you without immediately labeling them as creepy or weird for striking up conversation (unless they are legitimately creepy and weird, of course)?

Over the weekend, I made a special point to test out my own theory while at an event.  My friends were running late so I went alone. Until my friends arrived (an hour later), I walked around and struck up conversations with people I didn’t know. We shared business cards, cocktails and even stories about people we learned we knew in common. I also told some of them about this blog, so if any of you are reading – thanks for following!  Who knows what the future will hold with any of the new “friends” I made, but you never know where they may pop up again.

In today’s turbulent world, we are more reliant on each other than it may seem. Maybe you’re looking for a new job, new clients…or maybe even a date or a spouse. But, it’s true – so much more happens because of WHO you know, rather than WHAT you know.

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday last week, I’ll leave you with his words of wisdom, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

1 Comment
  1. i agree with you on this one.i was always keeping to myself before but i've learnt to start relating with people,because you can never tell how people you meet can affect u later in life or even immediately.

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