If you ever want to try this yourself
If you spend time in the Downtown Eastside you will realize that fear only exists within your head. Get rid of it! Toss it, turn it, burn it, churn it and do whatever you have to remove these stumbling blocks.
Fear can also prevent you from living a great life. Greet people, meet people, say hello and say thank you. What is the point of resisting the very thing you want and crave for each and every day? Every few blocks in the Downtown Eastside, you’ll see graffiti that says “We love you” or “I love you.” It serves as a beautiful reminder of what beauty really is.
Imagine a world where everybody talks and respects everyone else. If you were too busy to start a conversation with a complete stranger, then you can just say that you have no time and continue on walking. The greatest lessons you learn in your life are often through the experiences of others. How will you know about other experiences if you are not allowing others to share them with you? There is a lot to learn on both sides of the equation.
First, you will need to create a warm and welcoming environment for communication to take place. In layman’s terms, SMILE! Next, try to take part in an activity that both of you can enjoy together. If you cannot find a complicated activity, try a simpler one. Conversations about love, hate, anger and happiness are the most basic emotions that everybody has something to say about.
Then listen, listen, listen … listen. Speak only when you have to. It is also very important to be non-judgmental while listening to others, no matter how much you disagree with what they have to say. When you are on the other end of the conversation and are expected to do most of the talking then talk, talk, talk … talk. Try to keep it short and concise though. You don’t have to, but it’s nice if you can.
Ask simple one sentence short questions instead of long-winded run on sentences with multiple questions. Also, try to have good eye contact and positive body language. Even when your question has been answered, wait about a minute or two until you start asking the next question, because most often the other person has more to say, so do not to interrupt their thought process. The person speaking will be going through a lot of thoughts, so allow them organize their thinking before you interfere brain waves with sound waves. It is better to be patient.
Sharing something is also another way people open up to you. Sharing a meal or anything else automatically opens portals of communication. Sitting next to a person in silence after a “how are you” is also highly recommended. Most people may claim that this would make things awkward, but keep in mind that the term awkward only exists within your imagination. It is a self-fulfilling one. Once you feel uncomfortable, the other person will feel the same way towards you. Therefore, you need to be comfortable with yourself first.
Lastly, everybody has an amazingly beautiful, eye-watering, touching and moving story to tell you. Some guard them and others share them. We have a lot to learn from each other and we should get started. Your classroom? Planet earth. Let the lessons begin.