Talking to Strangers
Over the past 60 days I have had two instances, in the same grocery store, of being spoken to by strangers. I know that our moms and teachers taught us to shy away from these situations, but it has brought some joy to my life, so I am sharing it with you.
The first was just before Christmas when I ran into the store to get some D batteries for a decoration I was using. The young man at the register says, "You got a big boombox or something?" Which made me laugh! He was right. Nothing takes those huge batteries anymore. I told him all about the decoration and that I didn't anticipate the batteries lasting very long; so I was buying quite a few.
We shared a great few minutes of reminiscing of the old days – when we listened to music on boomboxes with big batteries. I left feeling great. He was just doing his job, but he also chose to share his memory, started a conversation and made my day.
The next occurrence was late in the evening. My husband Chris and I had run in for a few items. When using the self-checkout, a lady at the next register turns and says, "That is a great vest you are wearing!" I thanked her and tried to recall where I had bought it, to which she responded with a suggestion for a great website that sells sizes/offerings both she and I would appreciate.
Again, I left feeling like I wished we had exchanged contact info, as she was so nice, and I was so glad she'd said something.
It got me thinking about the opportunities we are probably all missing each day, when we are rushing through and looking at our phones or stressing about the next list of items we need to accomplish. I am not recommending you walk dark alleys to find these opportunities, but here are some top tips for engaging strangers, in the hopes of business building, member recruitment for Women's Council or just creation of joy in your life:
- Leave your phone in the car. If you are running into the grocery store or the bank or anywhere else that you will only be for a short while, leave it. In the old days, people would actually wait 30 minutes for you to call them back. They will wait. If you can actually just focus on being in the store, making eye contact and smiling at "strangers" while you are shopping, these opportunities for new clients or friendly encounters can occur. When people see you smiling and looking them in the eye, they will wonder one of two things: either you know something they want to know or they may think you work there – which will still start a conversation.
- When you see something that makes you laugh or brings a comment to mind, say something! If it is going to get you punched, then that is the wrong opportunity obviously. Otherwise, share your thoughts. People are so pleasantly surprised when we actually speak up and make a face-to-face comment. You may be the first person to acknowledge them all day. We do it on social media all the time, and if all you can muster is a thumbs-up, that is ok, too. They will know what you mean!
- Attend meetings and classes at your local board or title company and just "be there" during the sessions. Don't try to multi-task while you are there. Answer questions, provide anecdotes about your business and be engaged. Many times, the instructors will introduce me to the rest of the class, saying, "This is Melissa, and she is involved with Women's Council" – assuming that is where I learned these skills and the confidence to speak up and share, which is correct!
I hope the next time I see you (in the store or at a national meeting), you will have great stories to share with me about your attempts at talking to strangers and all of the business, relationships and joy you have been able to create while doing it.
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