Monday, 21 January 2013

RAK 18 - SMALL TALK (or Stranger danger?)

January 18

RAK 18 is just about talking, listening, and being present in conversations. Particularly ones with strangers.  How many people do you encounter on the average day?  Walking to work, in line for coffee, running out for lunch, some shopping after work.  Every day each of us encounters dozens if not hundreds of "strangers" (what an odd word when you think about it, how do we now they are strange).  For most of us the business of life and preoccupation of our minds has relegated these encounters to at best a "hi" or "how are you", a rhetorical question since rarely do we take note or register the response. More often than not there is no dialog, simply a shoe gaze, or more common these days, we stare at our phones and catch up on Facebook. I am probably more guilty than average where this is concerned.  Perfectly content to stay in my personal bubble and avoid interaction with others except where it serves my present need.

So what would happen if I shed my apprehension and insecurities.  Looked up from the floor/phone. And initiated small talk with those around me. Taking the time to say hello, ask the questions, and truly listen to the responses.  That was the experiment for RAK 18.  Throughout my day I would smile at all who I met.  I would say hello.  I would ask "how are you?" and listen to the response.  And I would engage in whatever conversation should spark from these interactions.

While I had many opportunities to experiment with this through the day, I will document the greatest of them.   I arrived 20 minutes early for a noon meeting at an Edmonton Tim Horton's.  I got a coffee, found a table in the corner and proceeded to pull out my ipad to catch up on some "work".  Soon after, an elderly couple sat at the table next to mine with their steaming bowls of chicken soup and small coffee's. I looked up with a smile and she said hello, I responded with a "hi" ... on a normal day that would have been the end of it and I would have buried my head back into the iPad. Not today.  I continued with some small talk about the weather, which led to a discussion of all things Edmonton and some reminiscing of storms that were before my time in the city.  At the end I had a genuine smile and a peaceful feeling, and so did the couple.  Amazing how it lifts peoples spirit when you take the time to listen and talk.  Amazing how it lifts our own spirits!  That was the end of that exchange until after my meeting, then there were some genuine "have a nice days" as I left, knowing that they would.  Knowing that I would.

Try it, you will see.

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