Strangers

Everybody has to commute everyday or at least take some sort of public transportation throughout the week. Most of us think that we are losing our time because our parents probably told us not to talk to strangers.
I, for instance, every time I have to do it, I try to engage in a conversation with someone I never met before.
Do you do that? And if you don’t: why are you so afraid of strangers?

Comments

  1. bid says:

    i usually don’t talk to strangers but there was one time i did,and it was one of the best conversations in my life. this person just opened up things about her life to me though we just met and i did the same.

  2. Han says:

    In London no one talks on the Tube. But on a special night of New Years Eve the Tube offers free transport all night and on the Millennium me and my brother got the whole carriage talking and drinking together! It was wonderful!

  3. pix31 says:

    we were strangers. circumstancially we met, talked and helped eachother..we cherished time and its moment relationship.. so many personal pains and happiness we discussed & resolved. A decade sponteneously we spend our time in a soulful flow.. At present A KNOWN friend made us STRANGER again…

    1. neil says:

      Heyy pix31
      i find communication with a stranger is more free , fascinating and fruitfull. you communicate with him/ her as stranger and rejevunate your strange life in strange manner.

    2. mchris says:

      that’s quite strange but it is within the r anges

  4. Laura says:

    I have made so many friends through this way i.e talking to strangers. I find it easy to make a connection with people i do not know and if an outsider came along they would think that we had known each other for a long time. I always find it also fascinating and also an opportunity to learn somethhing new, something different .

  5. Dado says:

    Everyone communicates with strangers.. everyone.. some people just don’t realize that they are communicating..

  6. Marie-Christine says:

    a stranger
    s t r ange r
    s t,es ti = is you
    there is anger in a stranger
    until you find out that the stranger is you and it then becomes an angel

  7. Jenni says:

    Talking to strangers is something I find rewarding as well as enjoyable. Of course not everyone is the same or feels the same about doing this. Even the same person at a different age will think differently about this approach. Several years ago I never would have confronted a stranger or invited someone into conversation. Now I realize that life is short and I wishing to make more out of it, I try to be kinder and more aware of the other people around me, treating them in a friendly manner. Because I know that there is no better feeling than experiencing the kindness and camaraderie of a stranger and perhaps making a new friend.

  8. Joël says:

    I don´t realy know what to tell to a stranger;if a stranger
    talks to me i will conversate with him.
    It is kind of respect to the other person, that i am silent,
    if he want to speak to me i will hear it.

    1. olivia says:

      After realizing that life is too short to keep your head down all the time, I began to notice people. Starting a conversation with a stranger is difficult. Most people are looking to end the conversation before even giving you a chance to start one. They are usually embarrassed when you act kind to them for no reason. I enjoy talking to people without the power struggle, or needing anything from them. I think it’s a very real way to converse in life. I make an effort to do this every single day!

  9. Liina.L says:

    Maybe one day we will have more self-confidence and more kindness. :) And less judging.

  10. Jenn says:

    How I wish the rule “Don’t talk to strangers” will be erased here on Earth.

  11. costea adiam says:

    am 16 ani si nu imi eteama de straini…cand intalnesc o presoana straina intotdeauna sunt curios sa aflu cat mai multe despre ea:capacitate ,calitati,defecte,comunicare,iubire,speranta….ma gandesc intotdeauna ca a fost trimis de cineva pentru a ma ajuta.daca aceea persoana straina imi vrea binele,voi putea zambi,daca nu,si razboiul e o arta…

  12. Jumanji says:

    Because most of us are close-minded. Talking to a REAL stranger means talking to a person being absolutely different from you, in many ways… that means another age, sex, interests… social position. Will a successful asshole talk to a wise tramp?

    On the other hand, even being quite a cheerful and open-minded personality and talking to a stranger doesn't always really mean sharing of some precious experience. It does sometimes, but in most of cases it is just an idle talk without any purpose or sence.. Because it is just as difficult to find the “right stranger” to talk as to marry the right person or to do something remarkable in this life. And not every Santiago meets his Melchizedek :)

  13. chieko says:

    hello Paulo and friends,

    i am not the person who start the conversation with stranger. maybe out of fear. also my boyfriend told me not to talk to strangers. i think there are good strangers and bad strangers. so i simply have to protect myself. but i love good strangers. they make my life happier and more cultivated. i just want to thank all the strangers who helped me when i am in somewhere. love

  14. Mike says:

    Well, I try to talk to strangers whenever and wherever i have the chance. I like to make friends. Of course, logically you need to be on guard or be ethical. =) And there is a right place and time for it.

    Like for example, my recent experience, I am currently living in Boracay, it was my first week here trying to make friends. I had only one friend here from Manila who is currently living here. It was my second night, I am with her on a local bar with some locals and an Estonian tourist. This local and the Estonian girl are engaging on a conversation, I waited for a little while to introduce myself and I did. The Estonian girl did converse with me for a while and gave me a free drink, tried to talk to the local as well (which my friend from Manila is a friend of hers), but my friend from Manila immediately stopped me and said: “don’t mess with the locals!!!”

    Eventually, not quickly realizing my own Filipino norms made me realize that I have instantly made very very bad reputation among locals, and they think that I feel like a local like them and know everything (kinda like bragging) and took it offensively, and sadly because of my habit, it escalated, so I had to lie low for a while.

  15. First of all, I would like to thank Paul von Austria for his update… and send him all my blessings for his journey!

    Well, in many posts I read that avoiding strangers is something that has been taught by our parents.

    With all respect to parents (I would die for mine… and I live for them), I think that when we grow up and become adults it is our time to make our choices and build up our own rules, isn’t it.

    So it’s like going back to the topic about breaking the rules: what rules are supposed to guide us along our life? Our rules, or our parents’ rules?

    Time changes so quickly, and life evolves every day: why should we stick to rules that were made 20-30-40-50 years ago, to protect a BABY??

    I always travel all over the world just by myself, and during every journey I have the chance to meet so many interesting people. Is it dangerous? Yes, it may be dangerous at times.

    But I think that when we grow up, we are finally able to find out if someone is dangerous or not, and keep our distance from someone that makes us feel uncomfortable.

    This is why the stay-away-from-strangers rule was made for children, because they cannot really perceive the evil in anyone. Or mabye they can?

    Love,

    Rossana Curri

  16. Marie-Christine says:

    Ca – merci j’avais besoin de ca (avec une cedille):)

    Cher Paulo,
    J’ai rencontre beaucoup d’etrangers
    aucun ne m’a autant affecte
    sur le plan de l’humanite
    que votre facon de penser
    et je tiens a vous en remercier
    vous dire combien j’ai tout apprecie.
    Grace a vous je peux continuer a rever
    regarder, ecouter, chanter, danser, toucher,
    et ressentir toute la beaute dont nous sommes entoures.
    J’espere un jour pouvoir vous rencontrer.
    Love

  17. Denise says:

    When travelling through South America I chose to have no itinerary, simply going wherever the journey took me. I have the most precious memories of encounters with strangers – encounters which led to experiences and places I may never have had if I had rigorously followed the guidebooks!
    In my everyday life I always talk to strangers and have NEVER had a negative experience. Alas, whilst I encourage my young son to also be open and friendly, it is with occasional trepidation as the message to the young is definitely ‘Stranger Danger’.

  18. Ca says:

    Marie Christine: J’adore!!:)

    Querido Paulo,

    Parfois une personne très proche peut devenir un etrange du jour au lendemain, et vice versa, un etrange peut devenir très proche… c’est pour ça qui je considere le mot “strange” très relatif… Moi, tout d’abord je fais de confiance a les gens qui je ne connais pas, sans les pre-juger, jusqu’au moment qui cette personne me prouve le contraire…

    Très bonne journée, très bonne semaine!!

    MARG,

    Ca

  19. Daniel S says:

    I almost always want to but I’m not good at presenting myself in a friendly manner. My face usually looks grumpy, my eyes nervous or staring, my body language passive or submissive, and my tone from tired to irritated or confrontational. So I think people aren’t comfortable around me.

    I often wonder about what their struggles are, their hopes, what they’ll be doing that day, what they worry about. Sometimes I see a stranger sitting quietly and think to myself that I love that person. But my life does not reflect that, and that is like a divide inside me.

    I think we are meant to love everybody, just as we are meant to be joyful and content. But somewhere along the way somebody was fearful and used violence or manipulation in pursuit of false satisfaction of their fears. Then nature rewarded that person with more offspring, and so it went.

  20. Marie-Christine says:

    Parfois un etranger peut vous aider
    a retrouver votre sanite
    un etranger peut vous offrir tant de bonte
    et tant de bonnes idees
    qui vous apprennent a vous relever
    et a tout recommencer.

  21. Ofelia says:

    It’s not unusual to see me talking to strangers while shopping, to ask or offer an opinion. Until recently, I would find myself talking to people while commuting to work. Now I have been laid off and these conversations are what I miss most in the day.

  22. Rhó says:

    Olá!!!!

    Acho muito construtivo conversar com qualquer pessoa, principalmente as que não conhecemos, como em fila de ancos, salas de espera de consultorios e etc.
    O mais interessante que agente percebe que muitas dessas pessoas conta-nos seus segredos, suas intimidades; como num desabafo. “Poxa! não conheço essa pessoa, provavelmente jamais verei novamente, e assim não saberei seu jugamento sobre mim” Eu acho que é esse pensamento que lhes vem à cabeça.
    Mas particulamente gosto muito de ouvir as pessoas e contar-lhe um pouco do que sei ou que aprendi nessa vida, só não curto muito oas conversas em hospitais, são muito deprimentes, ai evito conversas e me mantenho reclusa.

    Rhó- Rio de Janeiro

  23. Marie Flores says:

    Strangers…. I’m scared to death of them… of putting myself out there, of being judged, of showing fear, emotions, vulnerability… of allowing people to know me. It is probably one of my greatest weaknesses…
    On an intellectual level, I reason with myself that I am no different than others. I have the same feelings, emotions, dreams, wants, dissapointments as others, making me no different than the people that I come into contact with by chance every day. Even though the events that I may have encountered in my life may have been different (or not), the emotions that occurred as a result, make me the same.
    But on an emotional level, I’m a scared little girl that goes to any length to protect herself… avoiding eye contact with others, avoiding smiles and small talk, and always wondering what the motives are of the other party when they initiate contact with me.
    I have an overwhelming need to reach out to people, to connect, and to discover within others how we are truely more alike than we are different, some days I am stronger, and I let my guard down, but other days, I can not. This is something I am trying to reconcile with myself, and try to overcome, yet keep healthy boundaries.

  24. Latasia says:

    This is a big problem I have. It’s gotten so bad, I hardly talk to family. I feel awkward for some reason. Maybe I feel like they wont understand what I want to talk about. I consider myself a pretty consciousness person too. This is the one thing that I feel I have to work on the most.

  25. Even Stranger says:

    I believe that for each & every one of us there is only one true stranger – ourselves.

  26. loni says:

    Dear Paolo,
    I think as most of your readers say, its an education we get from our parents about not mixing with people we don’t know…a kind of protection against the unknown. Protection ‘from’ the unknown. As we grow older we become wiser and tend to be able to be more open with strangers…I am not such an extrovert but I feel the energy of people and sometimes just a smile can make someone’s day…or lending a helping hand. If the energy is equal then the conversation just happens alone and thats what I really enjoy. Every day brings a surprise and a blessing :-)…Bo18

  27. Tina Louise says:

    Clearly my parents struggled to get me to learn this lesson as I love strangers. I have spent my life travelling and the best part is always …the people. All these people are always strangers in the first moment at least.

    Travel has taught me that we humans, as a species, are so much alike. Governments, religions, organisations and institutions are the things that accent our differences and divide us… we are just us at our core and without label or definition.

    There should be less fear …but we are fed it continuously through media. Fear of terror, fear of hazard, fear of illness, fear of youth, fear of ageing and possibly worst of all – fear of ourselves, as strangers.

    Sad.

    Namaste,
    Tina Louise

  28. Lucélia says:

    Penso muito nisso!Há uma parte de mim que desejaria conhecer alguém estranho seja para começar uma amizade ou apenas por me sentir só, mas há sempre uma trava que me impede de fazê-lo.Uma insegurança enorme me faz dois passo para trás.A imagem do medo do descohecido é algo que surpreende e não sei de onde vem.
    Lucélia

  29. ROSA says:

    Cuando mis padres me dijeron eso siendo yo niña me estaban intentando proteger de “algo” de lo que yo, siendo niña no sabía, no tenía capacidad para distinguir en quién podía confiar y quién no…..pero vamos creciendo y vamos aprendiendo a relacionarnos y tambien adquirimos herramientas para protegernos de quien no nos conviene…de niños no las tenemos…somos inocentes.Los padres nos protegen así…después, se supone que ya podemos hablar con extraños, no hay problema. Yo lo hago a menudo y a pesar de que mis padres me advirtieran.Esa advertencia tenía fecha de caducidad.
    Rosa

  30. Vikrant says:

    ya…….I am afraid of strangers! In my life of 27 years i haven’t talked much to strangers.I usually find it difficult to interact to new fellows whom I don’t know. It may be due to my introvert nature, or due to conservative culture of India where I live.

    I just read few comments posted above and found them beautiful also. A strange question raised in my head, a lot of fellows say that they are not afraid of strangers but still they don’t share their pictures on this blog……!!This force me think again, is hiding ones identity making ourselves as stranger to others is a part of fear from strangers ?

    I just think, on this virtual world of internet how many times we share our true identity to strangers ? Leaving all this aside, I found this topic really interesting , it had some positive effect on my attitude.It has started changing the meaning of strangers in my life !

  31. Hi Paulo! Hi everybody

    I think it’s one of the deepest believes that we had been educated into.
    Probably only a little % of people, had real problems because of an stranger, but the fear is there, and we pass it from mother to child. It’s also very ironic that all of the crimes are done by a familiar, friend or close person of your circle!! And no one has said to you: be aware of your friends right? so is ironic. Is a matter of fears as always.
    I enjoy to met new people, you always learn something and expand a little more your window!
    So, why not?

    Have a nice weekend!
    María de Lourdes

    http://www.mariadelourdeseguren.blogspot.com/

  32. Anka says:

    Frankly speaking I feel intimidated when I shall talk to strangers, but finally when I do it, it makes me feel so much better.

  33. Claudia says:

    Strangers..

    i think that we sont engage sometimes because we are afraid that the person may ask us something about ourselves we are yet to learn or know. That perhaps a stranger could enlighten you can be a threat when you are in a windy time of your life.

    i cant say that i am free od my shackles enough to talk to anyone but my reasons are mainly because i think that if i did they may think i have an alteriar motive and that i guess i have sometimes given up on having interesting conversations with people, which is sad but it is where i am at. Maybe i should try this week to discover someone else’s story because each man comes with a great one.

    Grazias Pauelo.

    besito!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. [...] Talking to Strangers By asceticghost There is an interesting discussion on Paulo Coelho’s blog about talking to strangers. Check it out HERE. [...]

  35. Dhrub Painuly says:

    An interview with the MASTER…pls go to the link and read an interview with Mr Paulo Coelho with The Himalayan Times. Thanks
    http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=The+%E2%80%98Master%E2%80%99+Alchemist+&id=MjI1Nw==&catid=MTI=

  36. Joy Alvarez says:

    Hello Paulo.
    Strangers. It is the unknown that our parents fear for us ~ the times when they cannot control what happens to us. The fear itself is overwhelming and crippling and leads us to believe that a stranger equals someone whom we cannot trust. This is the problem. Strangers are really not strange, but they are new – just like you have written in your book “The Alchemist” when you refer to a strange place/land. Perhaps it is applicable in this case . . . who knows? Though when I meet new people, I also pay attention to my own instinct to guide me during the encounter. Ciao!

  37. NATASA says:

    You Know I used to work in a hotel for about 4 years and it was the best years of my life. I met so many people and become friend with total strangers from another country.With some of them we didn’t speak a common language but this was never a problem. I beleive that keeping an open mind and not afraid of other people will give an opportunity to discuver yourself.
    I am Natasa from Thessaloniki-Greece

  38. Prashantee says:

    Well sometimes strangers that i met in a public transport have had a profound impact on my life…I feel like they acted like arrows pointing in the direction of destiny…something like guardian angels…showing you signs…leading you towards your dreams… I guess you get the vibes as to when a person needs to be avoided and when talked to…And risks may accidentally lead to dreams and deeper insights into life…

  39. Sure Marie-Christine and anyone else on this blog who wants to chat can just drop by my blog, send me a message, sign the guest book, leave a comment on one of my posts, or find me on goodreads.com and facebook. http://lepapillonvert.spaces.live.com/default.aspx

  40. Catherine says:

    i was never afraid of strangers – perhaps intrigued and wary..

    yet strangers can entice young children off — abduction.

    i think the warning gives us time also to become ourselves in the ‘public’ arena, before we, as adults, must become wholly accountable… and not strangers..
    sometimes strangers can be overly familiar… and this can be more annoying
    it is important to always grant respectful distance between strangers..
    for two worlds are coming together..
    and it should be one born out of mutual respect, rather than mistrust, judgement or disregard.

    i think our societies culture can often push to display too much familiarity in this respect, without ever breaching the REAL relationships and bonds existing within ‘strangers’.
    ;o)

  41. mylène says:

    Hello!
    My parents never told me not to talk to strangers and I’m so grateful for that, because people I’ve never met before offer me new and fresh visions of the world, and, most of time, of myself..
    Have a nice day.
    Mylène.

  42. There’s a reason to teach children not to speak to strangers–so they don’t wander off after someone like the little beagle I once had who wanted to follow her nose after rabbits when I let her off her leash.

    When we are adults, however, presumably we can draw a line between conversation and wandering off with a stranger.

    I start conversations with whoever is around whenever I feel the urge to talk, whether I already know the person I’m speaking to or not is irrelevant to me. I enjoy a good conversation, however brief, and whether or not I’ll ever see the other person or not.

  43. Marie-Christine says:

    Hello stranger. Can we talk?
    ;)

    1. Jinsol says:

      Yes, of course! :)

  44. The concept of not talking to strangers is so fairytale related and fear oriented. Everyday we can choose whether to live in love or live in fear. Personally, I choose love. Of course we should have some concern for our personal safety, but Paul from Austria is so right, no one is really a stranger. We are all on this cosmic trip together.

    I often talk to people I don’t know, while out shopping at stores or open air markets, on trains and planes, in museums, etc.. My husband also loves to do this. Sometimes I think we are both big flirts.

    I also love to tell people how beautiful or fashionable they look. I love to see people’s outfits, maybe because I like clothing and sewing. There is no one too beautiful for me to approach or to pay a compliment. Some people are afraid to talk with good-looking people. I am not. I love all beauty and like to spread joy. A simple compliment can really make someone’s day and the smile you get back is so heart opening it will make your day even better. Occasionally, someone is stuck-up and turns you off, but interaction is worth the risk.

    I now live in the country, but this is one thing I really miss about the city (NYC), ‘people watching’ and more spontaneous interaction. I also love the smell of a good cigar and if I see a man smoking one I always compliment him.

    Not that many people wear hats any more, but I do. Hats are people magnets. Whenever I wear one I always get to talk to new people I don’t know. When I wore them in Manhattan people always chatted me up, and I rarely walked a block without a gentleman saying, “love the hat,” and often giving a wink or smile. Try wearing a hat it will totally make your day.

    Keep posting it increases the possibilities.
    Cheers,
    Karen in Canada

  45. Corry says:

    I yearn to have the courage to talk to strangers… But I havent been able to. Maybe it’s because of the influence of my parents’ upbringing and culture that shaped my opinion on ‘talking to strangers’. I feel that I have already judge them as an outsider… associate them with trouble and danger in the future, especially if they know more and more about you… So, I feel the need to protect and guard myself from not talking to them.

    I strongly believe that my parents’ influence is extreme on this matter. As I consistently think of strangers as people who would bring you tragedy, because most people are evil and just want to use you. I have been trying to undo this concept for awhile now… since I have grown more mature and understand that what my parents have been teaching me about people are not absolutely true… But seems like it’s taking awhile. :)

    So far, I do nods, smile and simple greetings to strangers. But thats about it.

  46. Ama says:

    Hello,
    From i was young i always loved to know other people, watch and listen to them, i remember when i was 18 year old, i met a stranger and he asked me some questions about things in my life like traveling and so on ,
    the next day he decide to hurt my face with knife and he did, for one reason (that i knew after 3 years later) that he did it because i could travel alone and for been open minded !! maybe jealousy !! maybe he was crazy !! i do not know!

    the fact of what happened made me feel sad, but i never changed my mind and i never stop talking to strangers,
    After what happened to me, i get to know more about the way how to talk to stranger and where it could be my limits with each different stranger i meet !!
    Thank god that my face is fine, one year after the accident but till today i still have small scratching that whenever i see it i remember the whole story !! and i m not scared ! :)

  47. Ama says:

    Hello,
    From i was young i always loved to know other people, watch and listen to them, i remember when i was 18 year old, i met a stranger and he asked me some questions about things in my life like traveling and so on ,
    the next day he decide to hurt my face with knife and he did, for one reason (that i knew after 3 years later) that he did it because i could travel alone and for been open minded !! maybe jealousy !! i do not know!

    the fact of what happened made me feel sad, but i never changed my mind and i never stope talking to strangers,
    After what happened to me, i get to know more about the way how to talk to stranger and where it could be my limits with each different stranger i meet !!
    Thank god that my face is fine, one year after the accident but till today i still have small scratching that whenever i see it i remember the whole story !! and i m not scared ! :)

  48. kathy says:

    i feel like a stranger to myself at times- people only show us what they want so you think you trust them to be themselves only to find they have decieved you- i believe there are honest moments out there but its hard to trust once hurt therefore doubting your self and questioning the new emerging person(stranger) within yourself

  49. czarinasays says:

    i work in retail and so i meet, talk and deal with strangers everyday– old and young characters a lot.

    BUT if i’m not in that scene, i rarely start a conversation with a stranger just for the sake of talking out- of- the- blue.

    the only time i talk to them or have a ‘short-talk’ kind of conversation while commuting or just out and about would be with bus drivers, greeting him/her and asking for directions from random persons WHO SEEM to have the time to spare when i am lost. (this is where gut feel kicks in) then there are those who i greet as i pass them by with a “hi, how are you?” or a simple “hello” or a smile and that’s it.

    it’s not so much of finding it hard to have a discourse with a stranger but its just a feeling of uncertainty where the conversation might lead to.

    most people get scared of uncertainty, which includes me. the fear of having to find your way in a dark tunnel with you eyes wide open but unable to see what catch there is along the way– which leaves you vulnerable to a. predators, b. discomfort, and c. not knowing where to cut the conversation wihtout being rude.

  50. Lola says:

    I always have a problem talking to strangers since I feel paranoid most of the time. I currently live in a place where the majority speaks English but English is just my second language. It’s not that I cannot speak, only that I feel other people are judging me whenever i open my mouth. Does it have something to do with my confidence level?