Talking to strangers #3

Talking to strangers... 3

My new hobby, talking to strangers, is going rather well. Notable successes include a young woman who was going to University to learn about sports science, or something along those lines. She was really interesting, particularly in the advice she gave me re: my weight loss battle. If you’re reading this I hope it all goes well for you.

Later in the same week I spoke to a woman who had just moved house. We chatted for a while about anti-social behaviour and how aggressive some people are getting these days. In the end got onto the war in Iraq and the election. It’s interesting hearing the unfiltered opinions of people, something I’ve always liked about phone in shows on the radio.

Then I had a first in my little campaign to talk to people I don’t know. A woman sat at the table opposite struck up conversation with me following on from the previous one I mentioned above. She’d just been to an annual school re-union where a few of her friends had hooked up and was a nice, energetic senior citizen who had a few choice words to share about politicians in general. She was interested in my plans to spoil my ballot paper.

I’m still being very cautious to avoid conversations with potential nutters and have managed very well so far. I’m also avoiding mentioning my profession, if possible, as it can tend the conversation away from interesting areas and seems to make some people clam up a little.



Nick, I find this whole talking to strangers thing you're doing fascinating, honestly.

Now, I don't know if you'll have the time or interest to respond to me, but I wanted to ask something. I'm a 16-year-old and I feel like I'm sort of at this awkward stage in life. I'm figuring myself out well enough and all that and I'm pretty confident about expressing myself on the internet behind this grand veil of virtual-ity. My only problem is, in real life, I can barely start (interesting) conversations and then hold them. That's why I find this talking to strangers thing you're doing interesting and admirable.

What I really wanted to ask, though, was how? How can you just strike up good conversation with strangers? I mean, I just want to be able to do it with the people I know that I don't speak to as frequently. What makes good conversation? What makes a good interlocutor?

I'd be really grateful if you answered, but I guess I'd understand if you didn't as well. I'm just tired of awkward silences.

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