Poll

Do you want strangers to make small talk with you?

UK: No, never.
3 (2.9%)
UK: I don't mind being asked a quick question, but I don't want to chat.
28 (26.7%)
UK: Bring it on!
4 (3.8%)
UK: I'd probably be STARTING the conversation.
3 (2.9%)
US: No, never.
5 (4.8%)
US: I don't mind being asked a quick question, but I don't want to chat.
41 (39%)
US: Bring it on!
15 (14.3%)
US: I'd probably be STARTING the conversation.
6 (5.7%)

Total Members Voted: 105

Author Topic: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!  (Read 2361 times)

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Teenyweeny

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S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« on: August 19, 2013, 07:45:35 AM »
I was inspired by this thread http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=129538.0.

Basically, I don't want strangers to talk to me for no reason. I am specifically not talking about times when somebody needs to talk to me (like asking directions), but about people approaching me to ask things that aren't urgent, or just to chat. I'm just not interested in those kind of interactions, and I actually feel a bit uncomfortable. I assumed that this was the prevailing cultural norm in the UK, but maybe it isn't.

To this end, I have created a poll. Please read carefully, and click the relevant option for your country! I realise that there will be differences within countries, so this is going to be a very broad brush picture, but I was trying to keep the number of options sensible! Also, this obviously excludes other countries, simply because I was mainly interested in the UK/US differences because of the other thread.



Shea

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 08:09:20 AM »
I'm with you, and I'm American. I feel very uncomfortable when strangers try to chat with me, though I'm okay with people asking for directions and the like. Fortunately, I live in a large Canadian city, where small talk with strangers is decidedly not the norm.


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Thipu1

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 09:58:59 AM »
Usually, there's something like a request for directions or an observation on a shared experience ( watching a ball game in a sports bar, remarking how nice the peaches on the produce counter look) that starts the conversation. 

I would seriously doubt the motives or the sanity of a stranger who starts up a random conversation. Perhaps it's because I live in a major city but such an action would be more likely to trigger suspicion than spread joy. 

scotcat60

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 10:47:33 AM »
I do sometimes indulge in small talk, like this morning when I was in my local garden centre, and I chatted to the workers about how their cost of delivery was much better and cheaper than a large chain of DIY/Garden suppliers, but generally I am not too keen on being engaged in conversation with people at bus stops, especially since I seem to attract the odder types. On occasion I have talked to older people in super markets quite happily, as I think it could be that they live alone, and get no chance to talk to many people.

Jones

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 11:07:39 AM »
I've noticed lately that women have been coming up to me, complete strangers, and striking up conversations about items I'm browsing or are in my cart, or my clothes or kids, whatever. I don't mind talking to the very young lady about whether strawberries are in season, but I hate standing trapped while my ear is chatted off by a person telling me all about her granddaughter's love of rainbows.

This never used to happen. Now it's a common occurrence--a stranger sees something we have in common and just HAS to comment on it. Drives me batty!

--US, small town raised, currently living in said small town.

Sharnita

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 11:15:19 AM »
Honestly, it depends to a significant degree where.I am,.what else is going on, how much time I have, etc. As I mentioned before, I was raised to recognize that there is an eco.omic adantage tobeing friendly to people who are visiting the area whether they are from another city, ztate or country.


Lynnv

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 11:30:42 AM »
It entirely depends on where I am and what I am doing.   Random folks approaching me for no reason when I am on public transit- I don't like it. 

The guy sitting next to me at the brewpub saying, "How is that IPA?" Or "Did you see the Very Important Sporting Event yesterday?" -both of those are fine. 

So I can't really answer the poll.  Sometimes it is fine or I may even start the conversation.   Sometimes it is not okay at all and makes me uncomfortable. 
Lynn

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faithlessone

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 11:40:02 AM »
I don't mind a quick "What's the time?" or "Is this the bus to the train station?" and I try to be friendly to people who need directions or some other sort of help.

In general, though, I don't want to chat. I find talking to complete strangers quite stressful (which is entirely my own issue).


cwm

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 11:48:45 AM »
US here, raised in a suburb of a fairly large metropolitan area, but not a "big city".

Honestly, it depends on my mood and the situation. Waiting for a bus or train? Please leave me alone. If I have a book or headphones? Please leave me alone. But there's this one barbecue place in a gas station (don't judge, it's one of the best places ever). The lines are frequently out the door, and you can easily be standing for an hour waiting for food. Sometimes I'll start up conversations with other people in line based on what they're talking about, but if they don't seem receptive, I'll go back to my book or to talking to my own group of people.

Someone asking for directions is going to have a bit more of a pass than someone trying to start an honest to goodness full-fledged conversation, but if I don't seem receptive to it, let it go.

whiskeytangofoxtrot

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2013, 12:42:07 PM »
The poll needs one more option- "Depends on the mood I'm in, that day" :D

Hmmmmm

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2013, 01:36:27 PM »
I voted "Bring it On" as I really don't mind small talk and most encounters I've had with strangers have been a pleasurable experience. In my 40 plus years, I can only remember a handfull of stranger conversations that bothered me. One was a couple of years ago on the DC Metro when a man decided he needed to try and play tour guide for me. The other was on a 4 hour flight with a woman who felt the need to tell me all the problems with her children, their marriages, and her grandkids. 

Sharnita

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2013, 02:41:55 PM »
lol, that makes me ponder the reality that the people I'd like to avoid talking to the most are people I know at least a little.  :D

shhh its me

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2013, 02:50:48 PM »
I'm US and "it depends on the circumstances and mood" waiting at the DVM I'll chat to people not reading wearing headphones ect.  walking down the street no. If I was in a park feeding ducks I'd likely chat with someone else feeding duck (assuming it was ok to feed the ducks).   

faithlessone

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2013, 03:39:38 PM »
I'm intrigued that all the UK people have picked the same answer!! (13 so far.)

lowspark

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Re: S/O: Talking to strangers. US vs UK: The poll!
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2013, 03:50:30 PM »
I picked "bring it on" but often I'm the one who starts the conversation.

I live in Houston and people are generally pretty friendly with strangers around here. I definitely chat with people on the elevator at work (many different companies in my building), at the grocery store, while walking in my neighborhood, and I even made friends enough to go to lunch with a couple of women who work on my floor but not for my company because we struck up conversations in the ladies' room.

Of course, not everyone is super friendly like that so it depends on how the person responds as to whether the conversation is one word or ongoing. But yeah, I'm ammenable to conversations with strangers.