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I am an avid Radio 4 listener and in the depths of the first lockdown, I heard a programme in the ‘Word of Mouth’ series about talking to strangers. Full of insight, Professor Tanya Bryon and her guests reported on research which reinforces what I always say: (a) talking to strangers is actually good for you. And not just in a practical way – it actually makes you feel better about yourself and your place in the world. It makes you feel as if you really do belong. And as we know, from a networking perspective, it can reap amazing practical rewards. 

And (b) you can get better at it. I often suggest honing your skills by starting a conversation in an unthreatening environment – in the queue at the supermarket, or in the park. The experts on the programme added an extra tip – if you are trying to talk to someone when you know you are slightly transgressing the unpspoken rules, acknowledge that fact. “I know I shouldn’t really comment, but I’ve just noticed that….” 

Please, though, don’t take my word for it. Listen to the 30-minute programme yourself:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000lmft