Week 1: Encounter with a Stranger

This week, we were assigned to find a stranger and engage them in a conversation. Because of the pandemic, it is not the best time to find a stranger in-person so instead, I want to talk about an experience I had with a stranger on LinkedIn earlier this week. As a part-time business consultant that works with entrepreneurs to start their own business, I occasionally receive messages from people who want to learn more about the role and opportunities to work with my employers. It is always awkward when people reach out to me directly especially when they are experienced individuals while I am still a student. Regardless, I introduced myself and told him about our organization. The gentleman requested to have a zoom call so he could ask questions. I respectfully declined as my schedule is packed from my job, school, and preparation for graduation and instead, I offered to respond to his questions by message. Unfortunately, it seems like he did not like that idea, and I have not heard from him since.

Reflecting on this experience, I start to ask myself questions from James Hamblin’s article “How to Talk to Strangers”. When do you consider a person known? How does your behaviour change? In my opinion, I consider a person known when I have interacted with them at least a few times. Knowing someone means their face, name, and actions come to mind. For me, it usually takes a few interactions with a stranger before I can consider knowing them. Knowing someone means that your behavior changes around them. When near them, you will not be as conservative. You are also more willing to go beyond your means to help them. Thinking back to my LinkedIn interaction, if I had known the gentleman, I would more likely adjust my schedule to attend the Zoom call with him. This experience shows that I am more on the conservative side when it comes to meeting new people. I hope that by taking this course and documenting on this blog, I can become more open when meeting new people and sharing my experiences.

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