- Monika Holod
Need a good listener? Try talking to a stranger
“You tuned out didn’t you?”
“Only from the point where you said you had a weird dream last night”.
And a quick calculation tells me I’ve just been talking to myself for around the 2 minute mark. While in the company of another adult.
We all know how good it feels to have a good chat. Talking is how we release, stop internal doubts taking hold and express our personalities. Talking prompts the production of dopamine in our bodies and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone.
In short, talking is one of the easiest and quickest ways to feel good.
But let’s consider who’s on the receiving end of all this beneficial chatting, because there lies one of the most underrated social skills. Listening. Often the sidekick to the more encouraged skill of being a good talker. But if you’re in the company of a good listener you feel heard and understood. It’s a generous gift to receive.
Being listened to makes us feel more confident and more powerful within ourselves.
But it can be hard to pull off as most talking between friends needs to feel like a 50-50 exchange to be deemed a good chat. It’s the unwritten rule of the chat, and by dominating we feel like the friend who automatically swings the conversation back to themselves. Or as I call them, friends to go dancing with.
Even if our friends and family are good listeners, they’re not always a good fit for what we want to talk about, which may be too revealing or personal and it may cover ground already covered: as anyone whose opening line of conversation has been greeted by a sibling announcing “not this again”, will know.
Engaged interest is one of the many benefits of talking to strangers.
It’s liberating. There’s no back story, no perceived eye rolling and no need to impress or keep up appearances. Especially if you’re using the new talking app Wangie, where there are no appearances at all. Wangie is a good place to talk to strangers as it’s anonymous, judgement free and Mentors are present to keep the chat rooms safe, and support the conversation if needed.
Talking to strangers empowers us to be our authentic selves. It’s like taking your best personality traits out for a test drive. And it can make us feel instantly easier and even more positive about whatever’s acting like a stone in our shoe. And if we’re not feeling the vibe, easy! They’re strangers so you can just leave without explanation.
We’re all strangers and we all want to connect, not to become friends but to become seen.
Try this. Engage with the postman and see how it feels, and next time you’re out walking give a warm hello to someone who’s walking alone. Not only because it’s how life used to be but because that other person might need it more than you know.
You’ve been a great listener, thanks for not tuning out.