I was told by my roommate that when you enter an elevator with a stranger in Europe, he/she will automatically start a conversation with you.
How many of you have stood there in awkward silence with a stranger as you both try to squeeze further and further into your own respective corners of the elevator?
What if that stranger asked about the weather and you had an opportunity to complain about how mother nature wishes to spite you at ever turn? Then as one of you leaves for your floor, you’d say goodbye and be on your merry way. Look, you successfully made human interaction.
I smile at strangers as I walk.
Have you ever made direct eye contact with someone on the sidewalk accidentally? Oh no – they saw you! And they can see that you also see them. YOU BOTH SEE EACH OTHER.
Then, a polite stranger cracks a warm smile, and you find yourself doing the same. It’s a silent “ya, I see you, you’re a person, I’m a person too.” And it’s OK, because now you’ve both acknowledged the existence of the other and can be on your merry way.
Knowing how to give a compliment and take a compliment without any hidden strings is important. “You look very nice” can literally mean, you look nice. Don’t confuse it with “I’m only complimenting you because I want to hook up later” or “I’m being really nice to you because I secretly have a huge crush on you and this gives you permission to assume I really want to hook up with you”.
I wouldn’t take candy from a stranger, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t steal a smile nor share a joke. Because we’re all human, and we’re all capable of little acts of kindness.