Blog Post

Serendipity and talking with strangers

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 24 November 2013



Serendipity and talking with strangers
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 161
Posted DateSunday 24 November 2013 16:54 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

A day or two ago I came across this post on Serendipity as a style of life. It immediately resonated with me as like the writer I have been making a point to talk to strangers for some years now.

I never thought about it as a serendipitous act before - I have just been looking to strike up interesting conversations with people. We go through life missing great opportunities to meet and have conversations with interesting people.

As the writer explains, it is actually quite easy and a stock of a few simple open ended questions do the trick. It's also rare that people do not respond, if you approach them in a warm friendly manner with an unthreatening question or comment.. Comments often work best as they are the least threatening and do not call for an answer. Having read the post, I am inspired to do it more.

Interestingly having just got back from KM Asia in Singapore - some of the most amazing conversations I have ever had are with elderly Chinese taxi drivers. They seem to have a lot of wisdom for their years. The most recent conversation, while I was there, was with a Chinese taxi driver who had a few years earlier, lost his business, his wife and most of his family and almost committed suicide but for the love and support of his youngest daughter. He was starting to rebuild his life.

And the taxi driver from Bangladesh in Dubai recently, who when I told him my wife was Muslim, proceeded in a very charming and low key way to try to convert me to the religion! LOL

There is an even more interesting story from Singapore some years ago that reminded me of a fundamental principle - "people can have every different perspectives on life - don't make assumptions that they feel the same as you do". I must write up the full story - watch this space.

Theodore Zeldin even organises Conversation Dinners where you get to have dinner and maybe more importantly intimate conversation with someone you have never met. To some degree, its also art of what my Knowledge Cafes are all about.

Go on! Next time you get the chance to start up a conversation with a stranger - do it. You may surprise yourself how easy it is and how rewarding.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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