Talk To Strangers

As a child, my parents always told me that I should not talk to strangers. Kids are inquisitive and easily manipulated so I don’t blame parents for not wanting their kids to talk to strangers. However, there comes a certain age and maturity in someone’s life when I believe they should follow the opposite advice.

A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

Take a moment and think about the people who you talk to on a daily basis. Every single one of them used to be a stranger. Maybe you were introduced to them, maybe 1 of them gave birth to you or maybe you stalked them on the social medias…either way, at some point you did not know them.

Why are we afraid to talk to strangers? Is it the fear instilled by the media? Is it our own insecurity that we have nothing to say? Do they make you feel uncomfortable because of the way they look? I can yes to all of the above.

You never know what talking to a stranger can result in. In November of 2014, I was doing interviews at the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum in Boston. The conference had ended and I was exhausted after doing 6 interviews in 8 hours. While I was walking up the stairs trying to leave the building, a woman dressed in all purple walked beside me. I asked her if she was enjoying the conference and that led into a 15-minute conversation. Turns out, she was the Director of the Global Entrepreneurship Forum for the United States of America. She loved what I was doing with my podcast and needed to send 2 entrepreneurs from the United States to Albania to do a week long business boot camp for high school students. Guess what? 8 weeks later I was on a flight to Albania. I spent a week teaching students from Albania about entrepreneurship. Yeah…pretty crazy. All from talking to a stranger.

Has this happened every time I talk to a stranger? Not even close. Sometimes cool stories don’t have to come out of it. It may just be a great conversation. In January, I flew home from New Jersey and ended up talking to the women next to me for the entire 2.5-hour flight. I will most likely never see her again but I will always remember the smile she had on her face while we talked.

If I had to guess what the number one reason is of why people don’t talk to strangers, I would choose fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of embarrassment. I experience all those same feelings. What I tell myself is that life is terrifyingly fragile…are we really going to let the fear control us?

This concept of paralyzing fear and talking to strangers can also be applied to asking out the guy or girl you like, contacting your dream job for an interview or confronting someone on an issue you’ve been ignoring. It’s all fear related. Confront that fear head on, take a deep breath and walk into the darkness.

I challenge you to talk to 3 strangers this week. Ask them what their name is, how their day is going and then try to find out a cool fact about them. Don’t stick with the superficial nonsense. Walk away knowing something personal about them. What’s their biggest struggle? What are they passionate about? What is something they are excited for in the future?

Remember:

A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

I’d love to hear about the strangers you talked to this week. You can comment below or email me at jordanagolli@gmail.com

-Jordan Agolli / jordanagolli@gmail.com

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