My son Ben and I were at the park last week and I stuck up a conversation with a parent on the playground. I’m new to town and 100% shameless about chatting with strangers….and when the conversation goes well, I’m asking for their digits. I believe that adult friend-making is built entirely on the social engagement blueprint of dating.
During this conversation, the other parent mentioned they were struck by our interaction because they had just read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Talking to Strangers.” And here they were, talking to a stranger. The big takeaway for this person was how humans can have mismatched facial expressions and realities. We believe people’s expressions more than we believe their words. The story in the book that exemplified this was about Amanda Knox – the American woman who was accused of murder in Italy. According to the book, she didn’t express emotions in a way that LOOKED innocent, so people believed she was guilty.
My son is a master of this – when I come into the kitchen and every cabinet and the refrigerator are open and I ask what happened – his little smirk and “Sorry, mom!” don’t do much to make me feel like he’s actually sorry. I’m sure you can think of your own example of mismatched facial expressions and words.
Talking to this stranger at the park, about a book focused on talking to strangers, got me thinking about what others might think about the same stories and content…so I’m going to do a little book club over the next few weeks. I’m going to read “Talking with Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell and you’re all invited to read with me. If you’ve already read the book, join in and reconsider the ideas. If you’re just a curious contributor, feel free to comment or share ideas as we’re going through. Afterall, these concepts aren’t unique to a book, they are about the human experience and how we connect with each other.
I look forward to hearing the perspectives of friends, colleagues….and strangers.