I have lived in our neighborhood for over 10 years. I see myself as friendly and outgoing. Yet there are only a few neighbors that I know well. In the past two weeks I have talked to complete strangers and dared to ask them their names. So what has caused this new boldness? Well the answer is this little fella.
We are currently dog sitting Buddy, while his owner is off traveling. I have been taking him for walks around our neighborhood as well as further afield. It seems that dog owners have a natural rapport with each other and find it easy to chat and introduce themselves.
So why is it that having a cute animal with us makes it easier to talk to strangers? Rapport is created when we have something in common with the other person. Without a furry friend, how do we go about creating rapport, especially if we don’t know anything about the other person?
The answer is asking questions and discovering some commonality. I find that people will often begin talking to me because they are curious about my accent (I’m from England). From there they may tell me that they like British TV or they enjoy traveling abroad. These type of situations create wonderful ice breakers and can lead to meaningful conversations that may even lead to friendship.
It is possible to find common ground with almost anyone. You may find it easy to talk about your favorite sports team and us Brits are famous for talking about the weather.
Wherever the conversation begins, if you get stuck, you can always make it wider, more detailed or take it sideways. For example if the person likes cars, you could ‘chunk down and get detailed about your car. Or you could ‘chunk sideways’ and talk about the kind of cars you like, have had or would like to have. Or you could ‘Chunk Up’ and talk about transportation and travel and the ways you prefer to get around.
Being too familiar/personal
So why not talk to strangers. Practice the next time you are in line at the grocery store or anywhere you get the chance. You have no idea where it could lead. And you don’t even need a dog, though that can be fun too.