Growing up, we were taught not to talk to strangers. Then our parents introduce us to one of their friends whom we’ve never even heard of, much less met before that moment, and they wonder why we get all shy and won’t say anything.
Actually, that was probably more my mother, because it seemed like everybody knew my dad. I clearly remember walking through the mall with my parents and some guy said to my dad, “Stan Brown! How the hell ya doin’?” To which my dad had an enthusiastic, yet brief discussion about something I can’t recall. The use of “hell” in this greeting is not insulting. It’s how my dad is usually greeted. I think it’s the universal code for “buddies” in my dad’s set. Anyhow, after the man walked away, I asked my dad who that was since he didn’t introduce us. “I have no idea. Probably a customer of mine.”
I suspect I got my gift of gab from my dad. But get my mom in a group of other moms, say at baton lessons, and she’d perk on up. Probably because she didn’t get out much. 🙂
Talking in front of a group of strangers can be quite intimidating for most people, but I seem to enjoy it. I have a couple of friends who also enjoy it as they are lawyers. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Jillian.) Sure, I get a little nervous before my presentation or whatever it is I’m about to talk about. I know my delivery will be stumbled over at some point. It happens. I move on. Maybe it’s the Pollyanna in me, but I believe at the end of my presentation, those strangers are one step closer to being friends. Aside from the writing and mom gigs, my other job is being a direct sales jewelry lady. My income depends on me being able to talk to strangers. This blog depends on me talking to strangers. Besides, I used to be a high school math teacher. You don’t get much stranger than 14-18 year olds and I’m trying to “sell” them algebra, geometry, or statistics. Talk about a tough crowd.
Speaking of tough, this past weekend was the 20th anniversary of the Disney marathon. If a person runs the half marathon (13.1 miles), they get a Donald Duck medal. If they run the full (26.2), they get a Mickey Mouse medal. For those who are Goofy enough, they run the half on Saturday and the full on Sunday for a whopping 39.3 miles in two days! I haven’t done any running for a while, but when I saw those marathon finishers with their special spinning Mickey medal, I decided that I’m going for it for the 25th anniversary. And who was the first person I told? A total stranger. A stranger who was wearing one of those cool medals, but still, it was someone whose name I never found out, where he lived, or even what his time was. That’s the cool thing about running. Strangers can become instant friends.
So my advice to you is to get out there and go talk to some strangers today!