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in: Podcast, Small Talk, Social Skills

April 24, 2019 Last updated: June 11, 2019

Podcast #502: Why You Should Talk to Strangers

Talking to new people can lead to making new connections and learning interesting things, and simply makes both you and the person you talk with happier. Yet many of us have a very difficult time striking up a conversation with strangers. Why is this?

My guest today has done studies to find out. Her name is Gillian Sandstrom and she’s a professor of social psychology at the University of Essex. Gillian’s research has explored both why people have such a hard time talking to strangers, and why it’s beneficial to do so. Today we dig into common barriers to talking to new people, including the “liking gap,” where we believe people find us less interesting than they do. We then talk discuss the benefits of talking to strangers (which go for both introverts and extroverts), and Gillian’s best tips for getting better at it.

Show Highlights

  • Why are people uncomfortable talking with strangers?
  • Do different cultures/places/situations have different norms towards talking with strangers?
  • The role of introversion vs extraversion in making small talk
  • The “liking” gap 
  • What’s really happening when a conversation goes poorly?
  • Why to keep giving random conversations a try, even if most are merely okay 
  • The benefits of small talk 
  • So how do you get started in this endeavor of talking with strangers? 
  • The power of compliments 
  • On following your own curiosity 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Gillian 

GillianSandstrom.com 

Gillian on Twitter

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Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. Talking to new people can lead to making new connections and learning interesting things and simply makes both you and the person you talk with happier, yet many of us have a very difficult time striking up conversation with strangers. Why is this? My guest today has done studies to find out. Her name is Gillian Sandstrom and she’s a professor of Social Psychology at the University of Essex. Gillian’s research has explored both why people have such a hard time talking to strangers and why it’s beneficial to do so. Today, we dig into common barriers to talking to new people, including the liking gap where we believe people find us less interesting than they really do. We then discuss the benefits of talking to strangers, which go both for introverts and extroverts and Gillian’s best tips for getting better at it. After the show’s over, check out the show notes at aom.is/talktostrangers.

All right, Gillian Sandstrom, welcome to the show.

Sandstrom: Thanks for having me.

Brett McKay: So, you are a psychologist and you’ve done a lot of research on the topic of talking with strangers. How did that happen?

Sandstrom: Bit of a long story, but I started doing a Master’s degree in Psychology and it had nothing to do with this topic and I had a research lab in one building on campus and my supervisor’s office was in a different building, and it’s a bit of a different distance between the two buildings and whenever I walked that route, I passed a hotdog stand and there was a lady who worked at the hot dog stand and I don’t know if I ever spoke to her, but somehow we developed this relationship where I would smile … We would smile at each other and say hi every time I passed by and it really made me feel like I belonged on campus. I felt like a bit of an imposter as many of us do taking on a master’s degree and just seeing her there and having this acknowledgement that she knew who I was and I knew who she was just made me feel really good.

And I thought, okay, is this just me or is this actually a thing? And so that’s what I decided to look at for my PhD, but a little bit longer story than that because my dad is sort of the king of talking to strangers. He’s been doing it, I’ve seen him do it my whole life. My mom too, but especially my dad. He seems to have a compulsion and he just loves it. He just loves talking to people and learning about them and it seems so easy to him. And so that was sort of an inspiration as well.

Brett McKay: This is the first time I heard a hot dog stand was the start of …

Sandstrom: Yeah.

Brett McKay: Research.

Sandstrom: It’s a true story.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I know. It’s really cool. Well, so you said your dad had this compulsion to talk with strangers, but for many people talking to strangers is like something they’re uncomfortable with and some of them even have a fear of it. In your research that you’ve done, have you figured out what are … Why many people are uncomfortable with talking with strangers?

Sandstrom: Yeah, I think people are uncomfortable with a lot of different things. And so part of it might just be sort of evolutionarily speaking, people had to worry about other people and worrying are other people gonna hurt me. We also have this sort of fundamental need to belong. It really mattered if we were sort of kicked out of our group thousands of years ago. That basically meant you were gonna die. So, you cannot … You need to belong. And so I think we still fear rejection from other people. It’s a really strong need to belong. So, we have all these things going around in our heads and we’re even taught to be afraid of strangers, right? When we’re kids, we’re told stranger danger. You don’t want to talk to other people. And I think part of it is just, you never know what they’re thinking, do you?

I mean, I feel like … I’ve talked to a lot of people on the bus and I feel like they kind of go through these phases. They’re … I’m imagining it of course. I don’t know for sure this is what they’re thinking, but I think they’re thinking first, do I know you? Because if I’m talking to them, I must know them or why would I be doing it, right? And then when they get past that and they think, oh, actually I don’t know you. I think the next thought is, are you a weirdo? And then usually we get past that and they realize I’m just being friendly and everything goes smoothly, but I think that the fears come from we don’t know what the other person is thinking. People don’t know what my intentions are in talking to them, right?

Brett McKay: Right.

Sandstrom: And, yeah. So, I’ve been looking at a lot of just trying to understand exactly what are people worried about. And there’s so many things. People endorse all sorts of reasons that I present to them. So, people are worried about what they might do during a conversation. So, they’re worried that they might talk too much or talk too little or say the wrong thing. People are worried about what the other person might do. They’re worried about how they might feel and how the other person might feel. So, worried about being bored or uncomfortable or just not being understood. People are worried that they don’t know how to keep a conversation going and they worry that it might just not be very interesting or meaningful. Might just be kind of awkward small talk, which a lot of us really hate. So, we have all these thoughts going through our head that just sort of turn it into this giant buzz of confusion.

Brett McKay: Right. And you also talked about in your research too that, you mentioned right there the whole stranger danger, right? So, the fear of talking to strangers, there’s a cultural component, right? ‘Cause like you grow up hearing don’t talk to strangers because that’s bad, but I mean are there some cultures where they actually encourage that?

Sandstrom: Yeah. I mean different cultures have different norms and even within the same culture, different places or situations have different norms, right? So, I mean, I’ll often hear about small towns and how people are more likely to talk to each other in a small town or if you’re walking your dog or taking your kid to the playground or taking a taxi, those situations, it’s pretty normal to talk to strangers, but lots of other situations, it’s not normal and people think, oh, it’s not okay. I’m in the UK now and when I talk to people about how we … Generally, people don’t like to talk strangers, they always say, but Ireland. So, apparently everybody in Ireland talks to each other. I had a student, a master’s student named Autalie, who just loves the culture in South America and so for her dissertation, she wanted to collect some data in Argentina. She asked people there about the fears that they had about talking to strangers and for some of the kinds of fears that I was mentioning, they’re much lower for people in Argentina compared to the UK, but for other kinds of fears, there weren’t any differences.

So, yeah. You’re definitely right. I’m sure there’s cultural differences. I haven’t done a lot of research on what those are, but they’re out there.

Brett McKay: Well, I thought that was interesting point you brought up that in certain situations it’s felt it’s more acceptable to talk to strangers, right?

Sandstrom: Yeah.

Brett McKay: In an Uber, I don’t know if it’s okay. Uber’s new but I always feel like I should talk to the driver.

Sandstrom: Yeah.

Brett McKay: He’s a complete stranger, but if you’re on a bus or a train for some reason, okay, you don’t talk to anybody.

Sandstrom: Well, people tell me that they’ll talk but they’ll wait until the trip is almost over because they wanna make sure they don’t do it at the beginning ’cause then they might get stuck talking to someone for the whole trip.

Brett McKay: Right. That would not, yeah. Some people might not wanna do that. So, besides the cultural influence, there’s also possibly … It … There’s a … The fear or not fear of talking to strangers, it varies from person to person, so there might be some sort of just individual basis, like your dad might’ve just … Was your dad just extroverted and that was just this thing? And are more introverted people less likely to talk to strangers?

Sandstrom: Good question. I always find that one hard because extroversion is tricky. I don’t know. It’s hard to distinguish between someone who’s extroverted and introverted. We’re all sort of on … At different points on a spectrum, right? I don’t even know where I fall. I enjoy talking to strangers. I probably do it way more than most people, but I don’t love going to a party where there’s lots of people I don’t know. And given the choice, I’d probably just stay home, sit on the couch with my cats and a book. So, am I extroverted? Sometimes. But I think a lot of people are afraid of talking to strangers, even some extroverts. But in all the studies that I’ve done, everyone seems to report enjoying conversations, but there’s a big difference before the conversation. So, my guess is that probably people who are a little less extroverted are gonna worry more before having a conversation, but are gonna benefit just as much and enjoy the conversations just as much as someone who’s a bit more extroverted.

Brett McKay: Gotcha. You sound like an ambivert?

Sandstrom: I guess. That sounds about right.

Brett McKay: Right. Well, so one of the big fears that people have when they talk to somebody they don’t know is that the other person they’re gonna try to gin up this conversation with, they’re not … They’re gonna think they’re an idiot or they’re not gonna like them, but you’ve actually done studies on this.

Sandstrom: Yeah.

Brett McKay: So, what does the research say? Is this fear that people aren’t going to like us if we try to talk to them, is that well founded?

Sandstrom: It is not. So, yes I did a little bit of research and some of the data that I collected comes from some ‘How to Talk to Strangers’ workshops that I run. And how that works is people sign up and it’s a special group of people because they’re obviously acknowledging that they think it might be a good idea to talk to people and they’re acknowledging that they think that they can get better at doing that, but nevertheless, these are people who clearly think they don’t talk as much as they should. And I put them in the situation and I say, okay, you’re gonna have to talk to someone you’ve never talked to before. And then I ask them a bunch of questions, ’cause that’s my job. I’m a researcher, I bug people all the time and ask them to answer questions.

So, I asked them before having that conversation, how interesting do you think your partner’s gonna be and how interesting do you … Will they think that you are? And so before talking people say, yeah, I think my partner’s gonna be pretty interesting, we’ll have an interesting conversation. But they think, ah, the other person, they’re not really gonna find me very interesting. And then they have a conversation, and this is my favorite moment of these workshops because at the beginning there’s just sort of this awkward silence in the room and nobody really knows what to do and then I give them permission to talk and then it’s really hard to stop people from talking and there’s this buzz of conversation in the room. But I stop them nevertheless and then I ask them again sort of how did it go? How interesting did your partner turn out to be?

And people generally report that the conversation went better than they thought and their partner was even more interesting than they thought they would be, but still they think the other person didn’t find them as interesting. So, there’s this thing we call the liking gap and that occurs both before having a conversation and after having a conversation. And my collaborators and I have found that this effect lasts a really long time. So, in my case with this workshop, it was a quick conversation before and after, but we also measured it in longer conversations and even with roommates getting to know each other over the course of several months. So even after several months have elapsed, people still tend to underestimate how interesting their partner thinks they are. And this is probably because we just have a really negative voice in our head. We think, ah, I shouldn’t have said that or I should’ve said it a different way. Maybe they took that wrong. Maybe they didn’t understand. We just have this voice telling us that we don’t know what we’re doing. We’re not good enough at having a conversation.

Brett McKay: And I think the other thing on the other person, for me, whenever someone talks to me or tries to strike up a conversation I’m rooting for them. I don’t know. It’s like … I’m like I want them to succeed. I want this to be a good time. I’m not focusing on the little negative things I have. I don’t even notice that.

Sandstrom: Oh, well that’s perfect. I think everybody would benefit if they thought of it that way.

Brett McKay: Right.

Sandstrom: I think we have to get out of that negative … Get out of our own heads and think about the other person and that would make things go a lot more smoothly.

Brett McKay: Yeah. And I think that they’ve done studies like that where you tend focus on your negative things more than other people are.

Sandstrom: Yes.

Brett McKay: They done that study where they made people wear dumb shirts and they …

Sandstrom: Oh yeah, the spotlight effect.

Brett McKay: The spotlight effect. Right.

Sandstrom: Yeah.

Brett McKay: It seems like this is the spotlight effect going on a little bit.

Sandstrom: Yeah. So, we’re far more aware of our own sort of shortcomings and we think we’re doing things that other people are gonna notice when really other people are in their own heads and not really paying too much attention to us. But one thing I just wanna point out is going poo … The conversation going poorly is sort of relative, right? Because we kind of act like if a conversation doesn’t go well, it’s this giant disaster, but really usually if a conversation goes poorly, that really just means it’s maybe a little bit awkward, it maybe has sort of an awkward silence in it or it’s just kind of forgettable, but it’s hard … It’s not usually awful, right? It doesn’t usually turn into an argument or an insult or anything especially negative. Usually if we say a conversation goes poorly, I think it’s just kind of neutral.

Brett McKay: I think that’s a good point. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with a stranger where it ended up we were arguing and yelling at each other.

Sandstrom: Yeah. And I mean, I don’t know. Do you like movies?

Brett McKay: I love movies.

Sandstrom: Yeah. Well, I mean you’ve watched probably a lot … Watched a lot of movies then. Are they all awesome?

Brett McKay: No, no, they’re not all awesome.

Sandstrom: No, right? You watch a lot of movies and you know there’s gonna be a bunch that are just sort of, eh. And then hopefully you keep watching movies and you’re gonna find a few that you really love. I think conversations with strangers are a little bit like that. We just … We have a lot of them hopefully, and most of them, a lot of them might just be nothing special, but every once in awhile we’re gonna have one that’s really great. And I think even the not special ones, the ones that are just sort of average still remind us that we can talk to people and sort of in aggregate makes us feel more connected to other people. So, even if the individual conversation is nothing special, the fact that you were able to have it and have it go okay, is a good sign. I think it still sends this sign to us about how we’re connected to each other.

Brett McKay: Well, let’s talk about that more because, okay. So, some of the fears we have about talking with strangers, probably not well founded, people tend to like us more than we think they do, but some people would say, okay, what’s the point? Talking to strangers, small talk. It’s a waste of time. But you’re talking about, you said in your research people feel more connected. What are the benefits of that? What are the benefits of feeling connected by talking with strangers?

Sandstrom: Sort of feel like the feeling connected is benefit in itself, but I imagine that it probably makes us feel a little more trust towards other people. And just feeling that trust and a little bit lower fear towards other people is just, I don’t know. I just … I feel like personally I walk around feeling safer knowing that most people are not that different from me and they’re decent people just trying to figure out how to live life just like I am and I don’t know. That in itself just makes me feel good.

Brett McKay: Right. And that probably … I’m sure you’ve probably … There’s studies that can be done there where it’s like, well, just feeling good that can help you reduce stress levels. I’m sure there’s studies like that that are out there eventually.

Sandstrom: Yeah, I don’t know. There hasn’t been too much research on talking to strangers. That’s sort of a new area, but I just went to a conference in February and there were several sessions about conversations and so it seems to be something that people are getting a little more interested in. But other benefits of talking to strangers, I’ve run a study where we asked people to think about how talking to a stranger could be a pro social thing. So, something that benefits not only you but the person that you’re talking to and people sort of … We ask them open ended questions about how it had gone at the end of the day and people said they made new friends. I mean these were mostly students that we were studying in that study, so they’re on campus and there’s a chance they’ll see the person again, so that’s maybe slightly different than in the city coming across someone you’ll probably never see them again.

But yeah. So, our students that we studied said that they made new friends, which is great, ’cause every friend starts as a stranger, right? People told us they learned stuff. So, someone said, hey, I talked to the barista and they … I asked them if they had a drink recommendation and I tried something new. So, that’s great. And I think they mentioned how surprising it was. They were surprised at how friendly people were when you made the effort to approach them and start a conversation. And I think a little surprise and a little novelty and uncertainty, just a little, kind of makes a difference in our day. It’s a good thing, right?

Brett McKay: No, definitely. There’s a benefit, you can feel more connected, can sort of bring some novel to your day, but how do you get started with talking with strangers? I mean, do you just go to random people and start chatting them up or do you … Are there different ways you sort of ease your way in to talking with strangers?

Sandstrom: Yeah. I’m gonna give you a long answer to that question. I’ll tell you what I do, but before I do that, I wanted to share a little bit about a study that I’m running right now. So, my research has sort of found over and over again, I’ve asked lots of people in my research career to talk to strangers and they generally enjoy doing it, but if I asked them after they’ve just had a pleasant conversation with someone, what do you think it would be like to talk to someone else? People sort of think, oh well that conversation might’ve gone okay, but the next one, I don’t know. And so I think that’s sort of our tendency to overestimate how different we are from each other. And so what I’ve been doing in this most recent study with my collaborators, Erica Boothby and Gus Coony, we’ve been doing a scavenger hunt.

So, we’ve been putting people in a situation where they need to talk to someone new every day. And we thought, how are we gonna get people to do that when people are so scared of it? And we thought, okay. We gotta turn it into a game. We’ve got to make it fun. And so people in this study, every day they play this new scavenger hunt game on their phone, using this app and we give them a bunch of different missions and they’re supposed to choose at least one every day. And so the missions might be something like find someone who’s wearing a hat or find someone who’s wearing something red or find someone’s who’s drinking a coffee and then they have to go up and talk to that person and then they report back to us on how it went. And some of those people, we gave them some tips on how they could do it.

So, this is how it connects back to the question you asked me and so I can’t tell you yet which tips were the most effective, but I can tell you which tips people told us they chose to use. And so of the five tips here they are in order of how often people chose to use them. The first, number one most used tip was we told people just be brave. We said people like you more than you think. So, this is just telling people about the liking gap, which we talked about before. And so the most people said, yep, I like that tip. I’m gonna try to just be brave. The second most common thing people did was to comment on something they had in common and this is where talking about the weather comes into play, right? I think that’s why people do it.

It’s a shared experience. They’re both … You’re in the same place, you’re … That’s something that you have in common. There’s obviously other things you can comment on as well. In our studies we’ve often studied students and so they’re at the same campus. Maybe they’re studying the same program, so it’s pretty easy to find something you have in common with someone. The third tip that people liked was giving people a compliment. And the reason I think this works, there’s kind of two reasons, one is it gives people a way to start the conversation, ’cause I’ve done some research showing that starting the conversation is the really scary part. The middle of the conversation and the end of the conversation are not as scary as starting the conversation. So, you can use a complement to start a conversation. And like we talked about before, I think it just helps you get out of your own head and shift your focus to the other person.

The fourth tip is just to use your curiosity and I think that has the same benefits, is it’s a way to start the conversation and a way to be shifting your focus to the other person. And then the fifth, the least commonly used tip, was our reminder to people that they would brighten the other person’s Day. So, it’s gonna be a good thing for you to talk to a stranger because they’ll benefit from it. So, people don’t seem to really resonate with that tip. But it is true. And I still, I like that tip. So, for me personally, I often just … I … It’s about being observant and commenting on something I see, but sometimes I’m just cracking a joke. So, I was on the train recently and there was these two gentlemen who were wearing exactly the same clothes as each other, which seems weird, but it turns out that they were free masons and there was a thousand of them who’d gone into London for some annual dinner.

So, I just made some kind of joke about did you guys text each other in the morning about what you were gonna wear? I talked to someone on the tube once in London because he was eating cookies for breakfast and that just seemed unusual, so I was commenting on that. So, often I’m just sort of trying to make people smile. Sometimes I’m just using my curiosity. So, once I was on the tube and there was a bunch of people who seem to be wearing the same T-shirt, it was for some kind of running race, and so I was like, what’s that all about? Or there’s a lady who was wearing airplane earrings. I thought, why do you have airplane earrings? So, curiosities is something that I draw on a lot and I do think about, it was the least used tip to think about how it might make a difference to the other person.

But it is something that I think about in some situations. So, definitely been in a room full of people and seen someone standing on their own and gone over and talked to them, because it helps me get over my own fear to think that I might be helping the other person.

Brett McKay: No, those are all … I love that.

Sandstrom: But sometimes I think, another tip that we didn’t put in the scavenger hunt study is just, you have to be patient and be okay that it might be a little bit awkward. Sometimes it takes a while to get started and then it might go a little bit more smoothly. So, I think it’s something we can learn and get better at, but sometimes it’s … It doesn’t go well and that’s okay. You can control half of the conversation, but there’s another person too and you have no control over them and some people are … It’s just harder to talk to.

It’s just hard to engage some people in conversation. And I think the trick there is to not be offended, don’t take it personally and just try talking to someone else. But I have a story I’d like to share about a recent Talking to Strangers episode. It’s my current favorite. And it started off really awkward. So, I had been in London on the radio in the morning and it was … And so it was kind of exciting, and so I got on the tube afterwards to head home and I was kind of … I had a little bit of a buzz, because it had been pretty exciting, and so I turned to the lady next to me and I said, how’s your day going? And she said, it’s fine. And I thought, okay, that conversation’s dead. And then she said, well, how’s your day going?

And I said, actually I had quite an adventure today. And I told her about how I had been on the radio and then she turned back to me and she said, well, actually I just found out that I’m pregnant. And so it was … She was gonna have to go back to her office and not talk about it because we don’t talk about these things for a while, but it was okay for her to tell me a complete stranger, maybe partly because it was a reciprocity thing. I just shared something with her and she shared it back with me and it just felt so amazing that someone was able to trust me and tell me something like that and share their good news and we hugged it out.

Brett McKay: That’s awesome. Oh, I love that story. So, those are all great tips. Another tip that I’ve seen is … Another way to ease your way into talking to strangers is looking for opportunities where you’re forced to interact with people, but you typically keep it arm’s length, the barista or the cashier, right? It’s very transactional. It’s all business. Use that opportunity. You’re already talking to them, why don’t you just take it a little bit further? Ask about how their day’s going or whatever.

Sandstrom: Yeah. I think that’s a great tip and you can try it out and see how it goes and you can just walk away at the end, but just give yourself that chance to have some practice.

Brett McKay: Yeah. My … What I do, is my shtick, is at Whole Foods, they have CD’s in front of the cash register and I’ll use that as a conversation starter with a cashier. Hey, what do you think … And it’s always … They always have really weird CD’s from the 70s or the 80s, albums from then. It’s like, what do you think about this one? Or I ask, does anyone ever buy this CD?

Sandstrom: Right.

Brett McKay: And that’s always gotten some good conversation going.

Sandstrom: Absolutely.

Brett McKay: And what’s nice is we go there enough and I’ve had a conv … I feel connected to those people. They’re not close friends, but yeah, I know them.

Sandstrom: Yeah. And it feels good. And you probably miss them if they’re not there. It doesn’t feel the same.

Brett McKay: Exactly.

Sandstrom: I think that makes it hard to move to a new city, because you think … We think about how we’re leaving friends and family behind, but you’re also leaving behind that whole network of weak ties that you don’t really think about, but when they’re not there I think we miss them.

Brett McKay: Well Gillian, where do you see your research going? Where are you leaning into more with this Talking to Strangers line of research?

Sandstrom: I’m sort of changing my path in the near future. It occurred to me … So, I’ve been looking a lot at trying to understand, like I said what kind of … Exactly why people are so worried about talking to each other. And so just like the hot dog stand inspired that, a post on Facebook has inspired what I’m doing next. And there was a … There’s a woman named Emily McDowell who created this line of greeting cards and she had experienced cancer treatment and just that situation that we all hear about, about how you’re going through something difficult and then you really find out who your friends are because people just sort of disappear and they … I … It occurred to me that maybe it’s … There might be some similarity within these two different kind of situations. Maybe people … People obviously don’t know what to say and so they’re choosing to say nothing at all, which is probably the exact wrong decision, because the person needs you in that moment.

And maybe they’re … Maybe we shouldn’t be worried so much about saying the wrong thing, but yeah. It just made me wonder how much of the worries we have in that situation could be similar to the ones we have when talking to strangers. And then if we do find that sort of common thing, common fears that would make it … Those are the things we should be targeting to help people have better communication. So, that’s sort of where I’m pivoting to a little bit in the near future is looking at difficult conversations and trying to figure out how to make them a little bit better. So, I’ve done one study already. I’m working with a local hospice and looking at conversations about dying. So, people at the hospice who they’re not … Death is not imminent for them, but they have been diagnosed with a life limiting condition and these are people who are coming to a support group.

And so just asking them, have you had a conversation with a confidant about your death and what kind of things did you talk about and were you okay with the things that people said or were they awful? Just trying to understand are there things that people really shouldn’t say and how did it go? And then comparing that to people who are in a similar situation but have not had a conversation about death and trying to understand what are they worried about and are those fears overblown as well? So, it feels very similar but also quite different from what I’ve been doing.

Brett McKay: No, I bet it’s very similar, because yeah. I’ve always had that feeling when someone’s going through hard times, ah, I’ll probably just say something dumb, so I’m just not gonna say anything. But when I’m on the receiving end, I don’t care what anyone says. I just feel glad that someone showed up and tried to have a conversation with me.

Sandstrom: Yeah, exactly. So, I think there’s probably similar things going on where we’re worried too much about saying the wrong thing and just inside our heads and probably the best situation is … There’s nothing wrong with telling the person, look, this is really awful what you’re going through. And I don’t know what to say and I’m worried about saying the wrong thing, but I just want you to know that I’m there for you and tell me what you need from me.

Brett McKay: Yeah, that’s … When someone … If someone said that to me if I was going through a hard time, I’d be like, man, you’re awesome. You’re so great. Well, Gillian, where can people go to learn more about your work?

Sandstrom: I have a website. So, it’s just my name, GillianSandstrom.com. I’m always happy to talk to people about talking to strangers and if anyone has ideas for how to use my research in something that they’re doing, I’d love to hear from them.

Brett McKay: Fantastic. Well, Gillian Sandstrom, thanks for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Sandstrom: Thank you so much for having me.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Gillian Sandstrom and you’ll find out more information about her work by going to her website, GillianSandstrom.com. Also check out our show notes at aom.is/talktostrangers where you find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.

Well, that wraps up another edition of the AOM podcast. Check out our website artofmanliness.com where you find our podcast archives. Got over 500 episodes there as well as thousands of articles we’ve written over the past 11 years on just about anything. A lot of social things in their social tips, personal fitness, personal finance, how to be a better husband, better father. Check that out, artofmanliness.com. And if you haven’t done so already, I’d appreciate if you’d take one minute to give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. It helps out a lot and if you’d done that already, something that you can really do to help us out a lot is share the show with a friend or family member who you think would get something out of it. As always, thank you for the continued support. Until next time, this is Brett McKay, reminding you to not only listen to the AOM podcast, but put what you’ve heard into action.