Connecting With Strangers

I met Cheri at a winery and there are many stories attached to our friendship. 

“It’s the people we hardly know, and not our closest friends, who will improve our lives most dramatically” -Meg Jay

In my time I've met some pretty amazing people. Folks who've inspired me, made me think outside the box, taught me something interesting and in a matter of moments have gone from stranger to friend. 

I've always enjoyed meeting new people but when I started being a restaurant server I fine-tuned the skill of striking up a conversation with strangers. Early on I learned if I make my customer feel like my friend and that I care about them they will be more satisfied with my service. 

Striking up conversations with total strangers are a great way to make new friends. The added blessing to making new friends is often they might connect you to a new contact for the next thing you are doing.

In every job I've had or business I've owned striking up conversations with strangers have served me well in more ways than one. Not only do I often walk away with a new friendship in which we maintain some kind of contact, but I've learned all kinds of things that I would have never known had I not met the person. 

I will always look for interesting people to sit beside in an airport or anywhere public. I like to pause for a minute and look for empty seats and then look for the funkiest dressed or most interesting looking person in the room. Once I've identified who I would like to get to know I make my way to a seat beside them and try to strike up a conversation with them instantly. 

When starting a conversation I like to ask questions. What makes you happy? What are your hobbies? I like to ask them about themselves if I see they are open to conversations. At times it doesn’t work and if they don’t open up I get up and move across the room to the next most interesting looking person in the room. I also look for those people who look like they could deplete the energy in the room and steer clear from those types. If they are sitting there with their arms crossed over their chest it is a good sign they are not open for conversation.

I thought I would introduce you to a few people I’ve met by simply sitting beside them and striking up a conversation with them by asking them a question.

One time I sat beside a lady on a plane traveling to Orlando. We instantly became friends. I shared my party mix with her and she shared her history with me. She lives in Atlanta and has fed thousands of homeless people over the years. She has a heart the size of Texas. Not only does she feed homeless folks, she is also a well-known speaker for a certain circuit and travels around a lot. My new friend loved my party mix. She asked me to her house so I could teach her how to make it. She has since traveled to Amish Country to visit my family and I and we have had all kinds of fun getting to know each other better.

There was that time when I picked a businessman’s brain inflight to Texas. He happened to be the CEO of Goodyear Tire and I ended up sitting beside him on the plane. One tip he gave me about hiring employees is that you can never put a round screw in a square hole. If you find a good employee, take care of them. If they are the right fit for the position then you have something valuable. I refer back to our conversation often as I’m going about my day to day business.

I’ve gotten a hair cut from a complete stranger on the beach one time and later even traveled to Toronto to have him cut my hair again.

Uber drivers are great conversationalists and I’ve had plenty of interesting conversations traveling down the highways and byways around Los Angeles, Ca.

One time I met this lady and her husband on the beach. I wanted to learn how to play Sudoku and asked them to help me. She is an artist and next thing I knew I was invited to their house for dinner and she has traveled to Ohio to attend my vintage sales at my house. We are great friends and have such a wonderful connection. My friend is old enough to be my grandmother, but age is not a factor in our friendship. We are kindred spirits of the best kind. Barb has traveled to see me in Ohio a time or two and we love thrifting together when I visit Florida.

A couple weekends ago I attended a party at a friend’s house and met  a new friend. She was a photographer from out of state. We struck up a conversation and next thing we knew we connected. We ended up sharing sites we follow and people who inspire us on Instagram. She came to our studio the following day and did an impromptu stylized photo shoot with our frocks. We had so much fun collaborating that morning and she had a new look for our brand which we ended up loving.  Here is her link in case you would like to check out her Instagram page. TinaErdmannportraits

I met Angela at a cheese shop in Florida and she's since moved to Hudson Valley, NY and we even got to see her last year when we vacationed there.

I cherish each of these encounters and friendships. Each new friendship has enhanced my life in some way. I am a better person because of having met them and conversed with them, if for one conversation or multiple visits back and forth. I have so many more people I could point out to you. I’m thinking of numerous Instagrammers that I would enjoy telling you about and am thinking that will be another post right here on my blog.

I don’t often leave a challenge for my readers on my blog, but I feel led today to challenge you to sit beside someone you don’t know next time you are out in a public setting and strike up a conversation. Don’t talk about the weather, but ask them about their hobby or what makes them happy. It would bless me if you shared those outcomes with me at some point.

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  • You are a blessing to us all, an inspiration to love more and be more. How rich your life is because of the love you give away. Thank you for your message today. Peace, love, joy!

    • Marianne
  • I agree with you about talking to people we don’t know. When I am shopping etc., I ask the sales person or waitress , How they are doing and look at their eyes and really care about their response..Thank You for your blog !!

    • Joan
  • What a gift you are to this world. Pure joy and kindness. I always believe in the power of positive energy drying what a gift you are to this world. Pure joy and kindness. I always believe in the power of positive energy drawing light and energy together. You are that force, and thank you for asking questions that stir the soul. A gift

    • Russell
  • I feel honored to be in your blog. I’ve loved being considered your friend & have enjoyed the times we’ve got to spend together. So happy for you & your girls & how you’ve grown Farmhouse Frocks. ?

    • Barbara Kline
  • The blessings of “stepping out of your box Lena to meet strangers”, not only bless you but blesses the life of the stranger you meet. I can remember the day we met and the conversation we had. Each time our paths cross now, I call you friend and there is never a lull in the conversation. Free and easy to pick up where we left off! Love you girl. Keep stepping out there!

    • Cheri Starn