Author Topic: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others  (Read 7246 times)

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Goosey

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #30 on: August 19, 2013, 11:55:35 AM »
I think that making idle, polite chatter with individuals is not impolite even if, in general, it's not welcome.

What makes it rude would be if he opened conversation to someone, was shut down by that individual, and continued to try and force talk with them.

snowdragon

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #31 on: August 19, 2013, 12:04:27 PM »
  We had a thread here while I was either lurking or quite new where some changed their child of about 7 at a poolside, with in full view of a restaurant - and Americans were told how puritan we are and that we need to respect the fact that these people might be from another culture - and that they might do things differently and to do otherwise was considered arrogant of Americans.
  Now we have an American who is the visitor, who is doing things according to his culture - and he's still arrogant. 
  The bias is what I find astounding. 
  I am not a chatter, but I don't think that someone who wants to chat is rude per se,,,just different. I think that if someone doesn't answer, is reading or otherwise engaged or giving off those "don't bother me" body language tips and you then it can be rude - but in general, it's a preference thing rather than and etiquette thing.

I think that making idle, polite chatter with individuals is not impolite even if, in general, it's not welcome.

What makes it rude would be if he opened conversation to someone, was shut down by that individual, and continued to try and force talk with them.

This

squashedfrog

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2013, 12:27:18 PM »
This is a great thread, as it actually got my friends talking about it at the castle picnic today.  We've generally said that small talk or polite conversation is fine, but taking social cues is important - like if the person has their ear phones in or they are reading. 

Also opening lines are important:

Good openers: 
Oh what a lovely baby/puppy/hat!
The buses are late again!

Bad openers:
They only let me out on Thursdays
You know what's wrong with this country?



AnnaJ

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2013, 12:31:30 PM »
I've visited England several times in the past few years and my experiences are very different from those expressed here by some people, particularly when I'm traveling alone.  Almost every time I've been on a train or at a station I've ended up talking to people - sometimes I've started conversations, sometimes other people - but I think the key is figuring out if the other person is receptive to conversation, the same as anywhere in the world.

If someone has headphones or earbuds on, or is reading = rude.  Otherwise I see nothing wrong about starting a chat - if the other person isn't interested there are several polite ways to indicate they don't want to talk.

Finally, these brief encounters are often what I remember most about travels - ending up in Leicester Square at 3AM with a guy I men on a train from Salisbury, talking to a young woman about going to college in Portsmouth, explaining Sudoku puzzles to a group of skinheads on the last train one night in London.  Honestly, if you (generic you) do not wish to engage in random conversations then you don't have to, but recognize that many other people enjoy doing so.   

Yvaine

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #34 on: August 19, 2013, 12:36:54 PM »
  We had a thread here while I was either lurking or quite new where some changed their child of about 7 at a poolside, with in full view of a restaurant - and Americans were told how puritan we are and that we need to respect the fact that these people might be from another culture - and that they might do things differently and to do otherwise was considered arrogant of Americans.
  Now we have an American who is the visitor, who is doing things according to his culture - and he's still arrogant. 
  The bias is what I find astounding. 

I'm having trouble believing that this board widely agreed that changing a baby right in front of a restaurant was ok. And I don't think this is about Americans or anti-American bias per se; after all, the majority of the board is American as far as I know. These same issues come up in other threads about interacting with strangers in public even when everybody's from the same country--and I think we've generally agreed that the chitchat isn't rude but neither is a more reserved approach, and that pushing past a "leave me alone" signal can be rude.

ladyknight1

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #35 on: August 19, 2013, 12:46:49 PM »
The number of posts on this thread that immediately labeled the talker as rude would disagree with your statement.

Surianne

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #36 on: August 19, 2013, 12:49:22 PM »
I think that making idle, polite chatter with individuals is not impolite even if, in general, it's not welcome.

What makes it rude would be if he opened conversation to someone, was shut down by that individual, and continued to try and force talk with them.

This sums it up for me.  As long as he listens to their signals and stops if someone wants to be left alone, I think he's not rude at all. 

SlitherHiss

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2013, 01:24:56 PM »
I think that making idle, polite chatter with individuals is not impolite even if, in general, it's not welcome.

What makes it rude would be if he opened conversation to someone, was shut down by that individual, and continued to try and force talk with them.

This sums it up for me.  As long as he listens to their signals and stops if someone wants to be left alone, I think he's not rude at all.

This.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #38 on: August 19, 2013, 03:13:32 PM »
It sounds like part of what's going on is that this man isn't just thinking "I would like to talk to someone, so I will try to strike up a conversation with the other person waiting for a train" but "people should talk to each other more, I will try to strike up a conversation and hope to be setting a good example." So he isn't just prioritizing his own desire for chat over the other people's perceived disinterest: he's evangelizing, hoping that if they once have the delight of small talk with a stranger while waiting for the Northern Line, they'll keep doing it.

I would be more sympathetic to someone who said "I've noticed something funny. I like talking to people when I'm waiting for the train, instead of just staring into space. English people are willing to talk, but for some reason I always have to start the conversations" and seemed genuinely not to realize that maybe that's because the other people would rather think about their plans for the day, or read the newspaper, not just because they were shy.
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

AffirmedHope

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #39 on: August 19, 2013, 03:18:37 PM »
I notice this is common thing in other countries. Here in the Mid-West, strangers strike up conversations quite often. For a social recluse like me, it's pretty uncomfortable and almost causes a panic attack (okay a bit exaggerated but I'm just awkward around other people.)

I quite enjoyed living in Sweden for a few months, where it's normal to ignore other people at the bus stop and not be told thank you if you hold the door for someone (which is quite a rarity for that to happen there in the first place.)

Eden

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #40 on: August 19, 2013, 03:20:41 PM »
The number of posts on this thread that immediately labeled the talker as rude would disagree with your statement.

For my own part, I labeled the talker's attitude as rude. Not the act of initiating conversation.

padua

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #41 on: August 19, 2013, 04:00:55 PM »
when i first moved to austria (i was there about 1 1/2 years), i was pretty friendly and said 'hi' to people who made eye contact with me. after the third time someone stopped me and asked how they knew me, i decided that maybe i was being a bit too friendly. i was young (thankfully) and have learned since then to observe first then engage.

cwm

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #42 on: August 19, 2013, 04:11:42 PM »
Personally I think it's very situational. If someone doesn't want to talk, that's fine, don't talk. Don't force conversation on them, though, that's rude.

But if the guy starts talking and manages to actually engage people in conversation, that's fine.

As I said in the poll thread, I go to a barbecue place in a gas station where the average wait time standing in line is an hour. Some days I really just don't want to interact with the world and I'll bury my nose in whatever book I have on hand and ignore whatever else anyone says in my direction. But frequently people there have conversations that spread from their group to another group. I had a very nice conversation one day with some people from NYC who were visiting. It turns out their mom grew up a few blocks from where I grew up, so he told me all the stories of what he'd heard from her stories, and I told him all about how much had changed. And then I gave him and his wife some advice on other places to visit while they were in town. It was a lovely conversation that came from nowhere.

mspallaton

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #43 on: August 19, 2013, 04:50:06 PM »
...I think the only thing this man needs to be aware of is whether the person he is trying to chat with is receptive. If not he should stop.

I think this part is the key.  In every region of every country in the world there are different cultural norms.  While the best possible thing to do would be to learn as much about those norms as you can, it might be impossible to know.  In my life, I've lived in New England, the West Coast, the Midwest and the South and things are completely different in each of those places.

- In New England, where I lived at least, small talk would've been met with a concerned and annoyed stare.  Anything personal or private (like a bus rider carrying crutches for example) would be rude to mention or point out.
- On the West Coast (again, just where I lived), small talk about basic topics was okay, provided the person didn't seem to be in a hurry.  Personal or private topics were still off limits.
- In the Midwest, small talk was constant and encouraged.  If someone attempted to board a bus or other transport with crutches and you didn't assist, offer assistance or at least ask if they were all right, it would be rude.  (Presuming you were standing closer than anyone else and thus most likely to be able to assist).
- In the South, the cities have had a similar culture to New England so far, with everyone going about their business and not being interested in small talk; whereas the country and suburbs have been closer to the Midwest, with the shunning of small talk seeming worse than engaging in it.

I know not everyone's experiences are the same, but those have been mine.  To me that says that knowing exactly how small talk will be seen is impossible and that it isn't rude to engage in it even if the culture isn't receptive to it.  UNLESS, you continue to do so after being informed or made aware that it isn't a good idea in the area.  For me, the mistake the American made in the OPs story wasn't making small talk at first, it was continuing to do so on the assumption that he would be off the hook for being from somewhere else.

Alpacas

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Re: Talking to Strangers: Imposing your values onto others
« Reply #44 on: August 19, 2013, 05:02:27 PM »
This is a very interresting OP as i had similar converstations with friends about tourists that insisted that german people are rather rude. (They always look grumpy, their answers are always kept short and they get right to the point)


A friend of mine made an interresting comparison after her internship in the USofA.
"US Americans are like Peaches, sweet and soft on the outside but with a hard center, and germans are like coconuts. a hard shell but once you crack that you're right at the center."

Maybe its just the european culture to be a bit more reserved when approaching strangers.
I must imagine in the early years of the USA it must have been a welcoming sight to  meet a new face, a stranger who maybe brought news from other cities.