A benchmark in friendship

Photo credit - Khurt Williams via unsplash.com

Photo credit – Khurt Williams via unsplash.com

Reading the Sunday papers over breakfast and coffee is one of my favourite past-times. Even though many suggest there is little content in the Sunday edition, I find there are entertaining pieces and thought starters in there. This Sunday was no exception when I read a piece about The Talking Park Bench.

The Talking Park Bench 
The Talking Park Bench is part of the 2016 Seniors Festival. It is an initiative by Claire Dixon who wants people to “look up from their phones and talk to one another”. The idea is that people sit on the seat and make conversation. There are laminated cards with suggested conversation starters.

Now I don’t think of myself as a senior (yet) but I like this idea. The art of conversation and talking to people you don’t know is a choice people make – or not.  When I travel on public transport I notice that lots of people are indeed hooked into their mobile devices – earphones in and fingers scrolling. I do it myself, but not at the expense of a conversation.

Good things happen when you meet strangers
~ YoYo Ma

Would you talk to a stranger?
What about you? Are you happy to strike up a conversation with a stranger on public transport? Or, in fact anywhere – like a park bench?

When I think about this project I ask myself, “Is it really so hard to start up a converse with people. The sage advice of my parents, was to ask people a about themselves. People usually like to talk about themselves or are at least happy that you are interested in them.

In the spirit of reciprocity, most people will – after being asked about themselves – ask about you. And voilà, interactions and interchanges occur. Perhaps common ground can be found, and rapport may flow from there. Is that so hard?

Extend your conversation skills
The park bench initiative is on this week. There are designated park benches around Melbourne’s CBD for people to join the cause. You can read more about the Talking Park Bench here. You don’t need to be in Melbourne or have a park bench to be part of this though. You could just “step outside your everyday, follow your curiosity” and speak to a stranger in a tram, on a train platform, in a lift or while waiting in a queue. Will you? Who knows the delights that await you.

If you dare, will you share – the outcome? Would love to hear how it goes. This blog could be your “virtual park bench”.

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