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Why talking to strangers is good for you, them and all of us

By | Julie Lythcott-Haims |

Want to live a more meaningful life? TED Courses are here to help. Taught by some of your favorite TED speakers, each course will educate you, inspire you and illuminate new ways of being and thinking. Plus, it will connect you with a global community of fellow learners. Go here to find out more. Below, a piece of life advice from author Julie Lythcott-Haims, who teaches the TED Course on how you can become your best self.   

In childhood, we’re told: “Don’t talk to strangers.”

But this is short-sighted advice because after we finish high school and move out into the world, everyone we encounter is a stranger. And we’re a social species, which means we need each other.

So instead of avoiding strangers, we need to get good at interacting with them, both to get help when we need it and to be of use to them. 

Let’s start with actual strangers — like the people you pass on the street or in a store. You may not think you’re in a relationship with them, but you essentially are.

Research shows that when you look right through someone as if they aren’t there, they feel a small sting.

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