Is it hard to start a conversation with a stranger?
I suppose when you are thrown into a shared experience a conversation can result, often based on acknowledging what is going on. A tram driver who suddenly uses the breaks, and sends passengers on a collision course with each other and other surfaces of the tram, could also cause people to say something to each other. Perhaps a new development proposed for a block may encourage people to contact other residents in order to mount a case against aspects of the development seen as likely to be a problem.
Some people seem to take the initiative with starting conversations. The other day I saw a lady offer her table to a man who had just ordered at a cafe. ‘I am leaving anyway.’ she told him. However, she did not leave straight away and they both stood near the table having a conversation which ended shortly after his meal arrived.
Do some people actively avoid conversations?
I do feel uncomfortable starting conversations with people I do not know; I feel that I am imposing on their time. However, I find it is rare to have your conversation attempt completely rejected, although the conversation might not last long.
Perhaps the closest to an explicit rejection was one man who grilled me as to what I wanted to get out of the conversation. We started talking and I was upfront that I am doing a project on the area. When he showed interest in my project and I thought we were going to say more than just ‘hi’, I gave him a Plain Language Statement. However, it seemed wrong to him that I would simply be having a chat rather than having a clear set of questions to ask him or something I needed to get out of the conversation. He was worried I was wasting my time, although I was going to be sitting in that place waiting whether I spoke with him or not. I did not push for the conversation to continue, but it did. It is as if once the ice is broken the entire situation is different.
Am I wasting time?
Nearly all the incidental conversations I have will never appear in my thesis, but I really enjoy the opportunity to get a feel for, and not only think about, the social side of a suburb.