Lydster: talking to strangers


talking to strangersTalking to strangers when we happen to connect in some way is something I tend to pursue. My daughter HATES that.

It might be me speaking to the mother of a cranky baby on a bus. Or worse, talking to the baby. Because I’m willing to play peekaboo or make faces to infants, I have about an 80% success rate in getting wailing babies to stop, if only out of their curiosity. I’m actually better with them than I was with my once-baby, now-teenager.

We went to see Bernie Sanders in Albany in April 2016, in a line going around the block. I started talking to the couple behind us about the weather, which was threatening. My daughter was mortified at first. But as we ended up spending over an hour and a half in the line, she seemed to appreciate the efficacy of conversation.


There was a report that was reported widely. Want To Feel Happier Today? Try Talking To A Stranger.

“The mood boost of talking to strangers may seem fleeting, but the research on well-being, scientists say, suggests that a happy life is made up of a high frequency of positive events. Even small positive experiences — chatting with a stranger in an elevator — can make a difference.”

Sometimes the conversation with the bank teller or sales clerk can be informative and/or fun. My daughter finds these interactions particularly cringeworthy, which, I always assumed, was the whole point of parenting.

Moreover, Malcolm Gladwell wrote Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About People We Don’t Know. It’s considered a “fascinating study of why we misread those we don’t know.” It is, in other words, the act is a social good.

Interestingly, my daughter has finally started recognizing the value of dialogue with people she doesn’t know. They’re not necessarily total strangers. It might be a kid she saw in middle school but never talked to. Now that they’re both in high school, she might take the initiative just to say hello.

Could the father be…RIGHT?