Do you ever just really want to join in conversations that you hear around you? Imagine this: you’re on the bus on your way to work. The people next to you are discussing your favorite restaurant. You REALLY want to tell them your opinion… but you don’t know them. Do you interject? Or do you keep your thoughts to yourself? How about this one: You’re at the airport, waiting for a flight. The people next to you are talking about something kind of random- their thoughts on whether or not dogs should wear jackets. You have a really strong opinion on this topic too. Do you speak up?
When I’m traveling alone I often find myself wanting to join in on strangers’ conversations. Maybe it’s a need for companionship, maybe it’s the desire to find a connection in a random place, or maybe it’s simply due to boredom. But I usually hold myself back, unless I deem the conversation open to comment. My criteria for “open to comment” aren’t very scientific: it’s some combination of how friendly the people seem, how serious the conversation is and how awkward it would be if they rejected my attempt to join in. My actual rate of butting in is pretty low, but in many ways I wish we lived in a world where it was more socially acceptable to interject. I could see how that kind of world would also be annoying at times- I don’t really need strangers commenting on EVERYTHING I say- but it would definitely lead to some great encounters overall. I think one of my goals for this week is going to be to challenge myself to join a random conversation. If you try it, let me know how it goes!