Sunday, 18 May 2003

tips for talking to strangers

while i normally try to avoid sounding too much like a self-help "guru", i have concluded that many conflicts and misery in the world are a result of the fact that people are becoming more and more separate from each other. even conversations between apparent good friends are becoming shallower and trivial, and the massive deluge of modern day entertainment (movies, tv, computer games etc) means that a lot of us can now surround ourselves with constant distractions, so much so that we no longer see the need to connect with others or even with ourselves and what really and deeply matters to us..

i like what the HH Dalai Lama recommends as the solution to the problem of conflicts in the world, and feelings of individual loneliness. he advocates developing a model of intimacy based on a willingness to open ourselves to many others, to family, to friends, and even strangers, forming genuine and deep bonds based on our common humanity

hence, here are some tips for talking to strangers that i found on the web.. tailor it to your needs. stay at any level as long as you like. in fact, some people spend months practicing, "Hi," in front of the mirror before they will dare it with strangers

Level 1: Glance up from your book to see who else is around. Say hello to the bus driver who has driven you to work for 6 years.

Level 2: Glance up from your book, catch someone's eye, and smile. Quickly, go back to reading. Smile at the bus driver, say good morning, and thank her as you get off.

Level 3: Comment on what someone near you is reading. Sustain a one-minute exchange. At the bus stop, say good morning to someone who has waited with you for the bus for years. Ask them how they are.

Level 4: Go to a gathering where there are only strangers. Only talk when you want to. Make up a bogus name if you need to. Promise yourself you can politely leave after half an hour if you are suffocating, angry, scared, bored, or sitting with people so much smarter or dumber than you that it's not worth your time.

Level 5: Talk. Listen, Learn. At will. Feel at home in your skin. Feel at home in the world.

as this website says: Humans like to connect with other humans. We are social creatures. It's taken a lot of television and fear to convince us to stop doing what comes naturally. You have it in you. So have at it…

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