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Talk to Strangers: How Everyday, Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income, and Life by David Topus

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Chapter 11

Find Clues to Initiate Conversation

The entire random encounter process begins with your ability to initiate conversation with a complete stranger. For many of us, the biggest challenge is knowing where to begin. What should you talk about? How do you find that point of entry into the conversation? And whom should you talk to, given a room, airplane, lobby, or elevator full of people?

In the 1960s and 1970s, people placed bumper stickers on their cars to make a statement or indicate something about their circumstances, personalities, or values. Sometimes they were funny, sometimes political, sometimes very personal. In all cases, they gave insights into people, their beliefs, their likes and dislikes, and what they considered important. Thirty and forty years ago, bumper stickers said things like “Let’s All Do the Twist,” “Hug a Hippie,” “Peace and Love,” or “Nixon in ’60.” These were literally and figuratively signs of the times that indicated car owners’ personal and political inclinations.

Today’s bumper stickers say things like “Driver Carries No Cash. . .He’s Married,” “Four Out of Three People Have Trouble with Fractions,” or “Guns Don’t Kill People; Drivers With Cell Phones Do.” Like those of the 1960s, these give insights into a person’s sense of humor, interests, priorities, and even values. If you pulled up beside someone with any of these on their bumper, you would have a clue about the person, and maybe even be able to say something about their statement ...

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