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bee33
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12 Apr 2024, 10:45 pm

My therapist recommended recently that I try to make small talk with strangers, like people waiting in line with me, or the cashier and so on. She said to choose people over 50, because they are more likely to be receptive. Also I live in Texas where people tend to be friendly. The idea is that because I feel that I am awkward and weird this would serve as practice. I think it might be a good idea but I haven't tried it yet. I've been too afraid. I've had strangers talk to me and I feel like I kind of fumbled it.

On the other hand, a friend of mine said it's fine that I'm awkward and weird and I should just go with that. (I am only fairly mildly awkward and weird, I think...)

Has anyone ever tried this? Or maybe you do it all the time? Or never?



funeralxempire
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12 Apr 2024, 10:51 pm

I talk to strangers pro-actively.

I'm awkward and have largely made peace with owning that fact. I've found owning it makes me less anxious since I've never been particularly good at concealing the awkwardness. Being a friendly weirdo is generally preferable to being an unfriendly weirdo.


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IsabellaLinton
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12 Apr 2024, 10:56 pm

I think that's an interesting idea.
I do it very, very rarely.
When I do it's more of an impulse than planned.

I had a friend who would strike up happy chats everywhere.
She could smile and laugh and be sooo genuine.
She'd call younger women "honey" and "sweetheart".
I kind of admired it but also hated it.
It really accentuated how much I'm NOT like that.

I have a hard enough time just speaking to people I know.

I had an in-person appointment earlier today.
I've been ruminating about it ever since.
I'm sure I didn't smile or make eye contact once.
I rambled, couldn't make a decision, and said weird things.
I've decided he thinks I'm a freak.

I'd be curious to know how it works, if you try it.


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TwilightPrincess
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12 Apr 2024, 11:01 pm

I don’t talk to strangers unless they talk to me first. I usually wear noise-canceling headphones so people won’t talk to me although sometimes they still do. With that being said, it sounds like something that could be useful and worth trying.


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IsabellaLinton
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12 Apr 2024, 11:03 pm

bee33 wrote:
She said to choose people over 50.


Is this because you're over 50 and they're your age group, or because people over 50 might be more receptive to friendly chit chat?


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utterly absurd
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12 Apr 2024, 11:11 pm

I have a hard enough time saying hi to people I know.
It's fairly regular that I have an impulse to talk to a stranger, but I never do. I get too anxious and worry about being too awkward. I tell myself it's not the right circumstances for some reason, or that I will, as soon as they walk over here. Okay, once that person stops talking to them. Etc. Or I just overanalyze the situation until it's too late.
However, when strangers talk to me, I tend to form my opinion of them based on how weird and awkward they come across. I'm attracted to weird and awkward people. Most people aren't, but you never know. So I would say it's a good idea to talk to strangers, but I say that never having done it myself, so maybe don't listen to me.
Even if they form a negative opinion of you, the more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes. So it's at least helpful in that way. But again, this is all speculation.
Sorry if my uninformed rambling was completely unhelpful.


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bee33
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12 Apr 2024, 11:11 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
bee33 wrote:
She said to choose people over 50.


Is this because you're over 50 and they're your age group, or because people over 50 might be more receptive to friendly chit chat?

I think she believes that older people are more relaxed and more receptive, whereas younger people are more impatient and have things to do. This is a generalization of course.



IsabellaLinton
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12 Apr 2024, 11:14 pm

That's kind of what I thought it might be. ^
Maybe they're less likely to be on their phones too.


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bee33
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12 Apr 2024, 11:59 pm

utterly absurd wrote:
I have a hard enough time saying hi to people I know.
It's fairly regular that I have an impulse to talk to a stranger, but I never do. I get too anxious and worry about being too awkward. I tell myself it's not the right circumstances for some reason, or that I will, as soon as they walk over here. Okay, once that person stops talking to them. Etc. Or I just overanalyze the situation until it's too late.
However, when strangers talk to me, I tend to form my opinion of them based on how weird and awkward they come across. I'm attracted to weird and awkward people. Most people aren't, but you never know. So I would say it's a good idea to talk to strangers, but I say that never having done it myself, so maybe don't listen to me.
Even if they form a negative opinion of you, the more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes. So it's at least helpful in that way. But again, this is all speculation.
Sorry if my uninformed rambling was completely unhelpful.

Your rambling was helpful and you sound like me. I just kind of panic in the moment so that even if someone else talks to me I respond awkwardly, sometimes too softly so they may not even hear me and definitely without looking at them.

The one thing I'm pretty good about is that I don't worry too much what people might think of me. I'm more worried about creating an awkward situation for them.



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13 Apr 2024, 7:37 am

I simply don't unless they speak to me, which feels odd and pointless.


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13 Apr 2024, 8:59 am

That would go against my nature. When I'm in public I like to keep to myself and thus I also don't converse with strangers unless it's completely necessary.

I find the small talk that strangers and work acquaintances try to have with me to be baffling. Like they'll say "How are you?" but, like, there's no expectation for an answer? It's sooo awkward. I finally kinda understand the vibe of it, but that seems to be all there is... a vibe and nothing else? Why ask a question that giving a real answer to would be inappropriate/awkward? :huh:

So yeah, my therapist has never given me this advice and I'm glad. I don't want to interact with strangers and I don't want strangers to interact with me! When I'm out in public leave me alone!


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13 Apr 2024, 10:11 am

YES all the time!

I am as Tony Attwood would say the "italian driver" type who blurts out everything with no sense of social rules.
(But obviously now I have some sense).
I get a lot of energy from talking to people, but I didn't used to enjoy it as much, without a specific reason
for interacting. I suppose I learned that I was lonely and I could fix that by going up to random people.

I tend to make humorous interpretations of the surrounding environment and use this
as an icebreaker. I get bored easily so I never use the same one twice and I think I am quite
good now at building rapport, but its taken decades of travel,
and I still come across as a bit weird and awkward and I guess I always will.

People are in general accepting of all kinds of folks though, being awkward is often a plus,
because people feel comfortable around you.

Your therapist has good advice, older people are more open to it, and the rules matter less.



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13 Apr 2024, 10:26 am

I have done it in the past occasionally, but as a general pattern of behaviour - no, I do not.



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13 Apr 2024, 10:30 am

Sometimes.
Especially when bored.


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13 Apr 2024, 12:31 pm

Not habitually. If someone starts a conversation with me randomly i may or may not be able to carry it on. Not sure what the pattern is, just sometimes i can do it and sometimes i freak out. I have tried starting conversations sometimes but i don't have much luck with that. Usually i don't even want to.


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13 Apr 2024, 12:34 pm

I generally don't seek conversations from strangers...but I often try for a chuckle.

I find humor to be a good lubricant and have been cultivating a dry sense of humor.

If I can get someone to chuckle they generally seem to be more tolerant and polite to me.


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