Several episodes of Question of the Day talked about talking to strangers. Now, if you’re a Stephen Dubner fan, you probably know that he has a new podcast called Tell Me Something I Don’t Know. If you’ve never listened, you should, but let me give you a little tip. You might NOT want to listen to this podcast while you walk around your neighborhood, because it is REALLY funny, and several things will happen:
- You will laugh out loud like an idiot and scare small children.
- You will laugh a LOT and if you are clumsy like me, you will trip and fall.
Anyway, when you know that Stephen has this other podcast, it suddenly makes a lot of sense that one of the ways that he starts conversations with other people is by asking them to tell him something he doesn’t know about what it’s like to have their job or do whatever they do. For example:
“Tell me something I don’t know about what it’s like to parent a child with special needs.”
Oh, hey, I HAVE A WHOLE BLOG ABOUT IT.
Seriously, I do NOT understand how I was never invited to be on QoD. It makes NO SENSE.
At any rate, I really enjoy this strategy, and I have totally stolen it for my own. It is a great way to get people to open up AND to make them feel important.
James has slightly creepier ways for striking up conversations with strangers, like taking pictures of their tattoos. Although, I guess I’ve done something kind of similar in the past… we were once at… the zoo, maybe? And there was a guy with a shirt that I thought was really funny, so I asked if I could take his picture. I just tried looking for the picture, but I couldn’t find it. You’ll have to take my word for it: it was really funny.
Both Stephen and James claim to be introverts. James says that his whole podcast exists because he can’t just have normal conversations with people; rather he uses his podcast as an excuse to interview people in depth and ask all the questions he wants to ask. He says that he prepares for weeks for a single interview (it shows!) and that 99% of the time, these are people he would really like to be friends with… but instead of just calling them to hang out, he calls them and invites them onto his show… and then never calls them again after the interview.
James doesn’t believe that Stephen is an introvert, which is funny, because Stephen also doesn’t think that James comes across as an introvert. Of course, Stephen describes his perfect day as “not seeing ANYBODY at all,” which made me laugh out loud, because for a long time I thought that was EVERYBODY’S perfect day.
If anybody asked me, “Hey, Abbi, are you an introvert or an extrovert?” I would say, “I’m a misanthrope.” Seriously, I find it incredibly difficult to be around people. When my son had cancer — did I ever tell you about the time my kid had cancer? I think I probably mentioned it once or twice — the second hardest thing was being around people EVERY DAY, because I am used to being in my house all the time AWAY FROM PEOPLE.
I am writing a book called I HATE EVERYONE. So, yeah. Misanthrope, introvert. Potato, potahto. Although this may explain why I have never been invited to collaborate on any podcast, ever.