The Belonging Book Club put on by the GCC CTLE this past summer showed me the importance of finding ways to belong and help others find belonging as well. This book has spurred me to start talking to strangers.
Let me assure you, I am not approaching strangers in dark alleys. However, I am striking up conversations with people I am waiting in line with, complimenting someone about their outfit, and asking questions about them when appropriate. I am looking for ways to be seen and show others that I see them.
This small conscious step I am taking has had a positive impact on my mood and confidence. Talking to strangers can be intimidating and awkward which is why I have avoided it in the past. I have learned, just like anything else, you need practice. I am about two months into this journey but I already feel more at ease in a crowd and I do not have as large of a fear response when I am around strangers at a store, gathering, or any other venue.
I believe the ease I am feeling in these moments is related to an increased feeling of belonging. Belonging by Geoffrey J. Cohen speaks to the need for all of us to belong and identifies the effect of belong as well as strategies to increase your sense of belonging. One of those strategies is to talk to strangers.
I am not saying that you should approach someone if the environment wreaks danger, but why not try to some small chit chat with someone while you wait. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of talking to strangers, here is a short article to get you started.