Five Fantastic Tips for Talking to Strangers (in a Good Way)

August 25, 2023 / by ECLARO

When the clock strikes 5 on Friday, you know what that means…it’s Five on Friday, naturally. And since you’re here with Eclaro (even if that time isn’t exactly five, or Friday, we still invite you to pull up a chair and join us), it means the time is upon us for some engaging conversation, for hearing about something new and maybe even taking the tried-and-true to a whole new level. All of this is inspired by our “Engage, Evolve, Excel” philosophy, which is fundamental to the ways in which we engage with clients and Eclaro team members alike.

The philosophy is also at the foundation of Five on Friday, our version of an Eclaro happy hour, with a full flight of ideas, thoughts and random musings from various members of the Eclaro team. It’s a collection of things we have long loved or have just recently discovered, sources of inspiration both personal and professional, and let’s-talk-about-this topics that we simply find fun and interesting and hope you’ll enjoy as well.

Stepping into the Five on Friday fray this week is Eclaro Technical Recruiter Greg Papalexis, who puts his own spin on the Engage Evolve Excel Explore Etcetera concept by taking us inside the pages of a best-seller that has plenty of best practices when it comes to talking to new people, opening lines of communication and finding the power in exploring how others see the world.

“One of my favorite books is Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell,” Papalexis says. “It explores how we often ‘get people wrong’ when we meet them for the first time, and what we can do to avoid the mistakes so many of us make on that front. Using real stories and psychology, Gladwell shows how our assumptions and misunderstandings can lead to problems in communications and understanding, but also how recognizing these potential interpersonal pitfalls means we can turn them into positives!”

Engage: As technical recruiters, we want to find the Right People for every client, and our success hinges on engaging effectively with potential candidates. However, evaluating their compatibility with job openings and deciphering their true potential from a resume alone can be difficult. We have to meet people, speak with them, get to know them as the people behind the resume. I always remind myself of Gladwell’s advice about the art of balancing “trust and skepticism” when interacting with people I don’t yet know—he suggests approaching interactions with an open mind while remaining vigilant for any inconsistencies or red flags, and that’s proven very effective. Almost every tactic that helps me make well-informed recruitment decisions also helps in everyday life decisions, too.

Evolve: Transparency is a concept we discuss all the time at Eclaro. Transparency between recruiters, candidates and clients is essential to finding the right candidate for the right job. Gladwell talks about the illusion of transparency and the misconception that our emotions and intentions are easily understood by others. This illusion often leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

To evolve our understanding of others, it's important to acknowledge that people's true emotions and thoughts might not be as transparent as we assume. Instead of relying solely on surface-level cues, I find it very important to evolve my skills in active listening and asking questions to genuinely comprehend the perspectives of other people.

Excel: Navigating the realm of technical recruitment involves recognizing the significance of context, especially in initial interactions with potential candidates. Gladwell's principle of “coupling” illuminates the undeniable influence of surroundings on behavior, so excelling in our interactions with strangers hinges on acknowledging the impact of the environment.

Our initial conversations with candidates may not always provide a comprehensive picture of their character or capabilities due to the context surrounding them. As recruiters, we benefit from adopting Gladwell's advice to comprehend the context that envelops an individual before forming judgments. This approach allows us to circumvent misinterpretations and truly appreciate the intricacies of human behavior in finding the Right People.

Explore: Gladwell talks about embracing cultural intelligence as a way to improve communicating with others, and this can be key when recruiting candidates from a variety of different cultural backgrounds in today’s global workforce. Cultural differences play a significant role in the way we interpret and communicate with strangers, so when exploring interactions with individuals from different backgrounds, take the time to learn about their cultural norms, values and communication styles. This approach can help bridge gaps, foster empathy and enable more meaningful connections.

Etcetera: One of the great thrills of being a technical recruiter with Eclaro is the opportunity of getting to speak with new people every single day. Gladwell talks about embracing the adventure of meeting new people, and he’s exactly right—it is an adventure, and one I highly recommend people embrace! I’m not just talking about work, but in your personal life as well, striking up conversations with random people at local parks, stores or restaurants. As Gladwell says, life is an ever-unfolding journey, with endless opportunities to engage, evolve, excel and explore.

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