A few of my colleagues and I were talking yesterday and stumbled upon an interesting topic (well, it was to us anyway!), which I thought I’d share with you today.

What’s your take on physical contact? As in, random people or acquaintances getting up close and personal with you. Does the idea of a hug from a stranger completely creep you out?

Are you the typical British person who starts to panic if someone other than their partner or best friend tries to give you a hug? Or will you happily welcome everyone in to your life with a kiss on the cheek or a warm embrace?

Physical touch is something that seems to stir up very mixed feelings, particularly in this country where we are notoriously straight-laced and unaffectionate.

Times may be changing but I think a lot of people, myself included, aren’t that comfortable with a stranger getting all up in our personal space.

Should we be?

When you think about it, having a hug when you’re upset can make you feel so much better. Maybe this is because of the person but maybe its just the fact of being close to another human being and feeling their compassion.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where any selfless act of kindness is viewed with suspicion but there’s a part of me that thinks how nice it would be if we were all a bit friendlier to each other!

You know those people who can sit down on a train and instantly get chatting to the person next to them and get off at their destination having made another friend?

I will always remember a friend of mine who was taking the train from Chester to Preston to come for a night out with us when we were students there. He arrived, having got us VIP passes and free drinks at a great club in town. We asked him, naturally, how he had managed this since we lived in Preston and he had only come up that day. He had managed to befriend the manager on the train on the way up!

Some people are just like that. Others either lack the confidence to talk to a stranger, or simply don’t want to – ‘they could be anyone!’. Do you think of that as being a good or a back thing? Couldn’t anyone mean they could actually be someone great?

As my confidence has grown over the years, so has my ability to be more open with people and more tactile (this might have something to do with the over-friendliness of people when I lived in Italy too!) and you know what, it’s quite nice!

Being able to give or receive a hug isn’t a bad thing, and when someone’s feeling a bit down, most peoples’ natural tendency is to reach out and try to make them feel better.

I recently read a book by Seth Godin’s people called the Flinch. It’s all about pushing your boundaries. One of the things it recommends is talking to a stranger, as in, saying hello to the very next person you see who you don’t know.

Maybe we should start we a smile.

Smile at a stranger, you might be the first person with a friendly face they’ve seen all day (you’ll be amazed how much it boosts your confidence too!)