Should we talk to strangers? We have been constantly advised to be safe from strangers and strangers are dangerous is the message that has been communicated to us. Is that true? Kio Stark answers these questions in her wonderful TED Talk titled “Why you should talk to strangers”. She not only answers these questions but also gives us how to go about it too. It strangely gave me a nostalgic feel. Most of us can connect with this talk and can be reminded of our conversations with strangers. Watch the video below.
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Two things I wish to discuss from this talk. The first is talking to strangers. All of us who use public transports definitely share a story with a stranger. All of us who are regulars definitely have stranger friends. The stranger becomes a part of our lives, part of our world. These strangers make us feel good about ourselves. They help us understand the existence of the world. And above all the feeling will be mutual, they experience the same with our interaction. I used to take a specific government bus to my school and there were a couple of passengers who smiles at me. One day I was late to the bus stop, I was running to catch the bus, and one of the smiling co-passenger asked the driver to stop the bus so that I don’t miss the bus. It was heartwarming and it felt so good, I felt I was being seen, I made some impact in their lives and I felt important.
Here comes the interesting part, even after that incident I never knew the stranger’s name nor he knew my name. We smiled more, spoke about schools, work, and yet we didn’t really know each other until the end. This brings me to the second aspect of this talk, “We have a bias when it comes to people we’re close to. We expect them to understand us.” After helping me the stranger’s attitude towards me was the same, there were no expectations from him, the warmth continued without any expectations. Are we doing the same with the people we are close to? If we did something nice to them we expect something in return and the equation changes as you put in even a small amount of effort. This is something we need to realize and be mindful of it.