Georgie's Story: A mission to improve the world's conversationby Rohan Mehta
Have you ever been to an event where you didn’t know anyone except maybe the organisers? If you are anything like me, you might stand awkwardly by the snacks pretending to be busy on your phone avoiding eye contact. Even if you had the courage to approach a stranger, what would you say?
Living in a vibrant place like London has its perks. On any given night there are countless of great events happening all over the city. Inspiring talks, startup pitch nights, design workshops, cocktail making classes, documentary screenings and lots other social networking events. Yet even though there is this wide opportunity to discover interesting ideas with new people, many decide not to go because they have a great fear of not knowing anyone there. In London, in particular, we have a culture of being reserved, floor gazing and minding our own business. While it is a low-risk strategy, there are times when we need to break out of our shells and comfort zones and interact with the world around us.
It can be intimidating to talk to strangers, especially without an introduction or a common thread to hold on to. We usually default to “how do you know X? What do you do? Where do you live?”. These are all questions that lead to yawnvile. Even beyond trying to break the ice with strangers at events, London is notorious for its awkward silence in the Tube. Even though everyone on the carriage recognises each other on the journey to work, no one dares to smile or make the first move.
The secret, Georgie Nightingall shares with me, is that people do secretly crave new and exciting interaction. “If you engage with people at the right time, in the right way, any stranger is approachable and would actually love to talk to you”. Not being able to talk to strangers is a misconception that we falsely hold on to as we avert eye contact with anyone we are not familiar with. Everyone has a story to tell and if you know the right way to open that door, your life might even be enriched.
Knowing what to say and how to engage with strangers is Georgie’s speciality. In October 2016 she tested out an experiment she called Trigger Conversations, an event to help strangers have more deep and meaningful conversations with each other because, as she puts it, “Life is Too Big Just for Small Talk”.
Georgie Nightingall has been part of the Escape The City community for a while, having signed up to the newsletters in the early days and attended some events over the years. It was at one of these events where she met Matt Trinetti who inspired her to start Morning Pages and pursue “The Artist’s Way” to unlock her inner creativity. This inspired her to think about Trigger Conversations. She reflects on this pivotal moment in this article.
Before she decided to go full time into Trigger Conversations, Georgie had a really diverse career. Her education focused on Philosophy, Applied Psychology and Linguistics. At university, she took on work with the British Army Reserves as an “Adventurous Training and Sports Coordinator”. She went on to take on project management and coordination roles at various charities, Startups, IT companies and a scientific research organisation. Some postings were more exciting than others but she was largely fulfilled. It was only until her last project in 2016 working with a charity/research institute where she felt an itch to do more.
In January 2017 she ended her last assignment with the charity/research institute and decided to go all in with Trigger Conversations after proving its success after a few events. “The first 6 months on my own were tough, I was constantly filled with doubt and received mixed reactions of what I was trying to do from friends and family.”
However, by attending Escape events she found an encouraging community of open-minded people that were keen to support what she was working on. As she explains it; “There is a difference between those who challenge you to help you improve and those who are simply negative and don’t wish to understand.” She found herself naturally gravitating towards those who wanted to see her succeed and spend less time with those who made her doubt herself.
Her first event in October 2016 was with 25 people, half of which half she knew, but now Trigger Conversation has grown and hosts frequent events per month for about 30 people each time.
Currently, Georgie is working on some exciting new applications for the project including Singles Events and working with other partner organisations. She is also developing a programme launching in September that aims to “help people have transformational conversations in their daily lives”. They will learn how to navigate small talk, be curious, listen deeply and know how to quickly get into a meaningful conversation with strangers. She also hopes to expand the Trigger Conversation events internationally soon.
Aside from running Trigger Conversations, Georgie is a transformational life coach and works with schools to teach children philosophy in a more relatable way.
When asked about how she felt about her life before her “escape” and if she regrets any previous career decisions she says “when I think of what I am doing now, every experience I have had in work and on courses are being implemented in what I am doing now. Everything has been valuable. I can now see how all the dots connect.”
When considering advice she might have for young people looking to go off the beaten career path she suggests “There are a lot of great opportunities that are not posted online. Go out and meet interesting people, connect with them and you might create an internship or job opportunity that might not have existed before.” I guess you better start by learning how to trigger meaningful conversations with strangers then.
There are two opportunities to join Trigger Conversations in the next few weeks:
14th of June Trigger Conversations @ Work.Life Bermondsey
28th of June Trigger Conversations @ Work.Life Clerkenwell.
There is also a half-day Trigger Training workshop to help you
Have A Conversation With A Stranger on the 16th of June @ Work.Life Hammersmith
You can find out more details about Georgie and Trigger Conversations on her website.