When I initially emailed the ALP about my most recent book, Consequential Strangers–which focuses on the importance of acquaintances, I had an ulterior motive: Now that I’m a sometime resident in the area, I want – need – to meet consequential strangers (CS) in Paris. I also thought the topic would ring true for expats. A place doesn’t feel like “home” until you know a handful of CS–merchants in the neighborhood, fellow attendees at a yoga class, acquaintances whom you see only occassionly but truly enjoy. The fact is, our loved ones give us comfort at home, but CS ground us in the world.
I have spent some 35 years focusing on relationships. In the past I concentrated, as most journalists and academics do, on close relationships. But in today’s world, we cannot rely on intimates alone. Partners and best friends typically know what we know and think the way we think, but CS feed us information and ideas, expose us to new experiences, and, often, open the door to opportunity. Indeed, I found out about the ALP from a fellow journalist I met while walking my dog! (Dogs are very helpful for socializing, especially in Paris.)
People tell me that reading Consequential Strangers changes the way they view their social landscape. Suddenly, they realize that although a relationship is not “close,” it can be quite meaningful. At my talk, I will share with you my stories about Consequential Stranger – and hope that it will jog your awareness of the many ways that everyday encounters contribute to your own quality of life.