Mama Said “Don’t Talk to Strangers”

Mama was wrong!

hand shakeI have lived in Vancouver for much of my life and one of the things I notice here is that people, especially men, do not make eye contact when passing them on the street. Many of my women friends notice this as well. When I was in Italy a few years ago, not only did I have eye contact the minute I landed at the airport in Rome, I had a dinner invitation for that evening. I have to ask, why is this? This isn’t just the dynamic between men and women, it’s the lack of connection as human beings and it seems a West coast dynamic.

I recently read an article in Success Magazine’s October issue by Meilissa Balmain. In it she outlined the many benefits of reaching out to strangers. She cited studies by Harvard Business School’s Social Science researchers that suggested chatting with strangers can help us be happier. Most who do reach out, whether at a networking event or in the elevator, enjoyed the experience and were in a better mood afterwards. Doing this on a regular basis was found to help with the development of empathy and a better understanding of people you would never meet otherwise.

Kids are great at this. My 10 year old son has no problem going up to another child in a playground, introducing himself and minutes later he is off with the other child enjoying himself. The other day we were in my car and he waived to a boy in a car next to us, and the boy waived back. I thought this was so adorable and so natural!

Kids just have fewer hang­ups around fear and rejection and they tend to live in the moment. I think it is time we adults learn from their “boldness” and do a better job of engaging humanity on a daily basis. You will feel better and probably help someone else feel better as well. And isn’t that a great way for us all to contribute daily in making the world a better place?

4 thoughts on “Mama Said “Don’t Talk to Strangers”

  1. Loved your article Estrellita.You are so right about the eye contact. Obviously you have noticed everyone on an elevator staring up at the lights flashing the floor numbers. No one says a word. I take great delight in making a comment, watching the startled look on the face or faces of the person or persons there with me, and starting a conversation before exiting at my floor. I always leave with a smile. Needless to say, a lot of my friends think I’m nuts! But, so be it. Sometimes that tiny bit of interaction can make someone’s day just a little better. (haven’t had that dinner invitation yet though)

  2. Great Article and my friends and I have had many discussions about this topic, Where The Hell Are The Men in Vancouver…….so I do not wait for a man to lift his eyes, if he is walking by me he is getting a smile and hello….if he is wearing shades, even bigger the smile and louder the hello…I remember the first time I went to Italy and we were walking down the street and I got pinched on the bum….by a man. I was so indignant and I could not believe my now exhusband did not punch his nose….however its make love not war in Italy so girls a trip to Italy is in the works…

  3. It’s the same in Australia, don’t stress you are not alone. I reckon men have become intimated by us and when in doubt look down or up but not straight ahead! As they say, it takes two to tango !

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