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Overcoming Loneliness. Would You Talk To A Complete Stranger? By Carl Yorke

Posted on 9 July 2018

This blog has been written by Carl Yorke on his website Thank you Carl for letting us feature it as a guest blog.

I wrote an article in March 2018 talking about how loneliness affects all men at some stage in their lives. Loneliness has always been associated with old age, but being alone is not driven by age. Loneliness and overcoming loneliness is a really complex issue and no answer can solve the problem.
I then read an article in the Mail On Sunday, written by Eve Simmons, on how a new idea by Alexandra Hoskyn was been launch called Chatter and Natter. It simply allows people the opportunity to simply walk up to a table displaying a sign “Chatter and Natter” and start a conversation.

It got me thinking. Is it as simple as putting a sign on the table asking people to pull up a chair and just talk to a complete stranger?
Can it be as simple as that? Can simply having a friendly chat help in overcoming loneliness?
For me, I would happily have a chat with someone I had never met before, but my guess is that most men would run a mile.
So, I had a quick look at some of the comments from the article and It was a real mixture, and it reinforced my view that most men would find it really difficult and uncomfortable to simply walk up to a stranger and sit down and to start a conversation.
Research Paints A Sad Picture On Loneliness.
There are many potential reasons for the isolation that men feel, whether it be personality factors, traumatic circumstances, poor choices, and/or health factors. But regardless of the causes, isolation is not simply a phenomenon of proximity; many men feel alone with people all around them. Overcoming loneliness can literally change a mans life. Everyone needs companionship. True friends that they can turn to when needed.

Research has concluded that loneliness is linked to
• A higher risk of premature death the older one gets.
• It’s a state of mind that can make everyday activities an effort.
• Lonely men are also more prone to develop high blood pressure as they age,
• And all the potential health complications associated with hypertension.
• And for men who are already unwell, loneliness can accelerate the spread and intensity of an illness and hinder any chances of recovery.
• loneliness causes risk for more than just feeling disconnected.
• Higher mortality rates associated with increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease and stroke are seen in those who are isolated.

People Need People; It’s As Simple As That.
Surly overcoming loneliness must bring so many benefits to a man’s life. An article in the Daily Telegraph went with the headline-25 Million “Men Have No Close Friends”
A study of relationships in the UK found that men’s chances of friendlessness almost treble between their early 20s and late middle age.
And married men are also significantly less likely than their single counterparts to say they have friends to turn to outside of the home.
So why should you believe that as we get older, men tend to feel lonelier with fewer confidants compared to women and their abundance of meaningful relationships?
Drawing on decades of research, Thomas Joiner weaves a neglected story about how the manly pursuit of status, power, wealth, and autonomy leads to great rewards in work and play but at the expense of loving, caring friendships. This is laid out beautifully in his book to be released next week titled, Lonely at the Top: The High Costs of Men’s Success.
Even those men who claim to love solitude, deep down they know that life without others is not the life it could be. It may well be that he’s become uncomfortable around his fellows. Nevertheless, there are many ways to plug back into humanity and the biggest hurdle is taking that first step towards positive change.
So going back to Alexandra Hoskyn, I think for men the idea of starting up a conversation with a complete stranger goes against what a traditional man would be comfortable with. And that’s the dilemma. Men have always found it really difficult to open up, to share their thoughts even with close family members.
Having the courage to simply sit at a table and wait for a stranger to sit next to you, takes some doing.
Alexandra mentioned we all should be comfortable talking with people, the connectivity we have today, social media and other online apps, the simple act of talking to a complete stranger should feel odd.
Have We Lost The Art Of Conversation?
We all spend so much time looking at a screen, be it a workstation, phone or our TV, we have lost the art of face to face contact.
We’ve all encountered men who have a knack for good conversation. They can talk to anybody about anything in a laid-back, casual manner that sets people immediately at ease. A complete stranger can walk away from these conversational maestros feeling like he’s known them for years.
It’s easy to think that the art of conversation is a skill that men were born with. Not true.
While it’s true that some men simply have a greater confidence and natural charm, the art of conversation is a skill in which all men can become competent.
So, if men can get past the idea of this macho stereotype, a real rewarding conversation opens up a new window of opportunity to meet new people. And the secret to a good conversation? Be natural, be yourself.
You may never have a silver-tongue, but you can learn to converse in ways that make you more confident in overcoming loneliness.
Ironically enough, the key to the art of conversation is not in the talking, but in the listening. I love this quotation-
Epictetus Quotes. We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
So, guys here a are simple tips to follow if you can find the courage to draw up a chair at “Chatter and Natter” table
• Ask those you converse with interesting and thoughtful questions.
• People love to talk about themselves.
• Don’t ask what someone does and leave it at that.
• Ask them what the hardest part of their job is, how the future of their profession looks.
• Then ask follow-up questions to tease out more details.
• Act genuinely interested by focusing on who’s talking, nodding your head, and adding “hmms” and “uh-huhs” at appropriate moments.
You may not consider this a great idea, but why not give it a try? You may be surprised.