“How to Talk to Strangers”
Talking to strangers during the epidemic is more complicated than before because we need to maintain social distance to ensure the safety of each of us. We can’t judge whether the other party wants to talk to us or is interested in our topic by seeing the other’s expression because masks are now mandatory. Being isolated makes me even less good at communicating with others, but I always appreciate people who can talk to strangers at will. Because they look very outgoing and energetic, they can participate in any topic. They have another vital thing in common: they all have a humorous sense. Studies have shown that commuters chatting on the subway have improved, and the happiness and creativity of people talking to strangers have also improved.
I’m not good at communicating with others, but I also want to try talking to strangers. In my opinion, strangers are people we have never seen before and meet randomly in public places. Therefore, when I was waiting for the bus at the bus stop on Saturday, I summoned the courage to say hello to the girl sitting three places away from me. I thought we would end the conversation with a few greetings, but I didn’t expect that we had been talking until the bus came. I think the most challenging thing to chat with strangers is how to start? How can you bring up a topic they are interested in and want to discuss with you? I chose to talk about what the other person is carrying. She wore a mask with the SFU logo, so I asked her where she bought it. When she knew that I was a student of SFU, we inherently discussed our views on the class would transfer to in-person on the 24th and many things about the school. There seemed to be a lot of conversation between us. After the bus arrived, we got on the bus and sat together. At this time, I realized that we were no longer strangers
Because Edward Hall delineated that four zones of interpersonal distance:
public distance (greater than 12 feet)
social distance (48 inches to 12 feet)
personal (18–48 inches)
intimate (up to 18 inches)
We’re more likely to shorten our distance with people we know, family and friends, and deliberately distance ourselves from strangers, especially during the current pandemic. Therefore, when we go from talking three seats apart to sitting next to each other, I know we’re no longer strangers to each other. To quote Hamblin,
“Once we consider a person known, our behaviour toward them changes entirely.”
With the rapid development of digital information in today’s society, most of us focus on the digital world. And unfortunately, many people use their phones to avoid talking to other people in real life. Because when a person is absorbed in the phone’s content, most people will not take the initiative to disturb. Therefore, if the girl I met at the bus stop has been playing on mobile phones, I don’t think we can communicate with each other.
Compared with online interaction, I will be more nervous talking to strangers in real life. English is not my mother tongue. Sometimes I need time to think. When I talk face-to-face, I will be very nervous and don’t know what to say when I face the other’s doubts. But on the Internet, there is no face-to-face sense of urgency. We can learn some information about each other on the Internet, to know how to communicate with each other. On the other hand, we don’t have any info when we talk face-to-face, so it’s easy to end the conversation abruptly.
Hamblin, James. 2016. “How to Talk to Strangers.”
Proxemics. Proxemics – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/proxemics