How Do You Talk To Strangers?

As a bookshop volunteer at The National Trust, I’m very fond of striking up conversations with strangers over books, cake and coffee.  That’s one of the great things about working for a charity: that you are allowed to listen and interact.  It is those kinds of conversations which brighten up your day and it is especially rewarding when you find a rare or unusual book, “Fly Fishing” by J.R. Hartley, that kind of thing.  I also work with an ex-community Health Visitor and we’re extremely good at looking after our visitors, each other and exchanging stories.  

I’ve always been a bit of an eaves-dropper, in the most unobtrusive kind of way, listening to everyday conversations on the bus or train or in the local Co-op.  The kindness of strangers is really incredible.  When both of my children were tiny babies, I used to take them out in the pram and I’ll never forget being given a penny (pound) “for the baby” in my local Derbyshire village by old folk.    

I don’t know if I’m lucky, or it is because I have an open disposition, but I often feel like I’m the lucky recipient of little acts of kindness.  This week, a young man helped me at the local library as I was struggling to send my new business poster to the printer.  Sadly, we didn’t succeed, despite his A* in ICT, but it was heartening to see him try.

Similarly, when I’m travelling through France on my bicycle I often smile at people and get a very warm welcome on return.  It is truly incredible how lovely, kind and generous people can be.  They nod, smile and welcome you to their beautiful part of the world for no gain other than the joy of a simple exchange.  In return, I listen carefully, respond with gratitude and blog about how wonderful the pace is when I get home.

What you do, how you present yourself and what you say will always be important.  Something to think about: the know, like, trust thing.  An article, blog or some content might seem like a diversion from your main activity when you are busy, but they are all pieces of a bigger jigsaw puzzle. 

Don’t be a stranger: tell me about the story you are looking for and I’ll listen, write it down and return it to you as soon as humanly possible. 

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