One of the ways I spend my time is as a Design Thinking Facilitator at the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. Last week I was prepping for a workshop I facilitated this week about How to Talk to Strangers. The class I’m prepping for is longer than normal so I was able to play within that spaciousness and work to design a learning experience that goes deeper into the material and explore it to satisfy a bit of curiosity.
The skill we are building is talking to strangers to support empathy and interviewing work within the design thinking process. We are acknowledging the need to lean into the uncomfortableness of talking to strangers while also providing a structure and reason to do so. This provides a solid way to learn by doing and build confidence in the ability to do hard things.
A series of audio guided expeditions that moves the students through increasingly more challenging ways to talk to strangers based on the work and Ted Talk of Kio Stark.
A solid start. And the how is important. It is helpful to have specific tactics and practices to guide our exploration of new things. The world is full of helpful how-to’s to support any skill. But the how is not enough. Knowing how does not mean that you will. I would argue that the why may be even more important than the how. And I am curious about the why.
So, why is it important to talk to strangers? When venturing into new territory I believe it is best to start where we are and then go through the journey to the new and unfamiliar place.
And now the leap into the why…
An entirely unproven and incomplete answer I’ve come up with so far: