In my Landmark course, we were talking about framing conversations, and it talked about first establishing “relatedness” to the other person
With family or other close people, to establish “relatedness” to then start a topic might be nothing more than a “Hi”, with others it might be more of background or small talk to get people comfortable and relating to each other.
It occurred to me in that people don’t talk to strangers because there is a perceived lack of ‘relatedness’. (though really as human, we fundamentally have stuff we can commonly relate on I’m sure, if we were more open to the listening). Without an obvious or easy way to relate, we tend to think – I don’t know them, they don’t know me, there is no benefit or interest to engage in conversation.
In transit and other public spaces, I use to think sharing space must equal some relatedness but proximity isn’t enough. It takes some to prompt. In hearing other people’s stories about talking on transit, it seems it is an external event, happening or something that two people see in a shared space, related to and then talk.
- Tino said people talk to him when he carries a book
- I talked to a girl who I saw sketching on the subway
- Liz talked to a lady when an unusual message came across the subway system.
- Daniel talked to someone who was looking upset and carrying a empty cat cage on the subway.
- I saw a conversation start after a lady was carrying an unusually large stuffed animal toy.
In observing the way the work was viewed at Williamsburg Walks, the signs themselves are to a degree an unusual external thing to start the conversation about conversations. Many people seemed to find the signs funny, which is a good sign.
However in the same way – the signs might not likely be enough to prompt many conversations, that it might take some other external thing to start the relatedness (example, me sitting in the space might be that prompt).