The benefits of talking to strangers

Photo by Deva Darshan

In a year like no other, with limited face to face contact with our friends and family, our interaction with strangers has changed.

For some, a safe conversation with a stranger may be the highlight of one’s day. Did you know there are several benefits to talking to strangers?

Before talking about the benefits, I just wanted to take a moment to highlight safety when it comes to talking to strangers.

Please use your best judgement when dealing with strangers and situations. If something doesn’t feel right, you can always immediately end the conversation and get in touch with a trusted individual; a family member, friend or someone of authority if need be. Trust your instincts and remember that your personal safety is paramount.

When we talk to strangers, we create a connection. This can be both physically in person and virtually online. We can connect with a smile, eye contact or even a simple wave.

When we connect, there is an acknowledgement of existence. Even a simple interaction can be deep and meaningful. A connection can give us motivation and inspire us.

Virtually, I have been able to stay connected by continuing to teach yoga, and I have joined and continue to meet like-minded individuals online in social media groups. Local gardening, seed trading and creative projects are some of my favourite groups that I belong to. I have found that many of the online communities to be very encouraging, supportive and educational. We all need connections with other people. One of my favourite quotes on the subject of connection comes from Brené Brown: “Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

Talking to strangers builds and grows community. We get to know our neighbours, our essential workers, and additional people who belong and work in our community.

Having a strong and supportive community makes the world a better and safer place. Your community can be as simple as your own personal community in the area where you live, or on a larger, even global scale.

In connecting within our communities, you’ll also come to realize it truly is a small world. I met a friend of a friend while living in New Zealand, and in our first five minutes of our meeting, I learned, that not only does her Mom live in Calgary, she was only two neighbourhoods away from me!

We grow by stepping out of our comfort zone. I know for some of us small talk or even the idea of talking to strangers may seem awkward. If the interaction feels safe, just start simple with a smile and a hello. A simple compliment can also go along way as well. The more we practice the art of “Small Talk,” the easier it becomes. In turn, when we take a step out of our comfort zone and we grow.

It can be a great opportunity for learning. When we engage in interacting, it’s also good for our minds: you can learn a lot from the other person, you may learn more about your community, an area of interest or even learning about yourself. You can learn a new skill or even learn about new, exciting opportunities. 

You may just make a friend. At some point, those that we’re friends with now at some point were strangers to us. It could very well be the start of a beautiful friendship.