Added: Francisco Cary - Date: 03.02.2022 16:49 - Views: 44017 - Clicks: 920
Nic spent most of her childhood avoiding people. The combination left Nic fearful and isolated. Nic asked to be referred to by only her first name to protect her privacy. As she grew older, she began to travel to seek new people out.
At 17, Nic visited Europe for 10 days with her high-school classmates and noticed that people began starting conversations with her. She was anxious about these encounters, wired for fear and expecting the worst, but they always went well. They were actually sources of comfort and belonging. They expanded her world.
Read: Why do we look down on lonely people? This form of connection changed her life. They were mine. But most of those studies have looked at only close ties: family, friends, co-workers. In the past decade and a half, professors have begun to wonder if interacting with strangers could be good for us too: not as a replacement for close relationships, but as a complement to them. The of that research have been striking. Again and again, studies have shown that talking with strangers can make us happier, more connected to our communities, mentally sharper, healthier, less lonely, and more trustful and optimistic.
Yet, like Nic, many of us are wary of those interactions, especially after the coronavirus pandemic limited our social lives so severely. Read: A stranger helped my family at our darkest moment. These days, Nic is a successful nurse with an uncanny gift for connecting with her patients, and is happily married to a kind and sociable man. But the conversations tend to go well, reassuring her that there is goodness in the world, and the possibility of belonging.
She was raised in Canada by extroverts who loved talking with strangers. One day, Sandstrom, who had always considered herself an introvert, realized that she always looked down when she walked along the street. So she started holding eye contact with people and found that it actually felt pretty good. Before long, she was talking with strangers too.
She was surprised at how easy and fun it was. Once, on the subway, she saw a woman holding a box of elaborately decorated cupcakes and asked about them. That was just a delightful conversation. I wanted to do it again. I felt like, Yeah, I belong here. Sandstrom decided to study this phenomenon. She and her Ph. The participants who talked with their barista reported feeling a stronger sense of community and an improved mood, as well as greater satisfaction with their overall coffee-buying experience.
Read: How to talk to strangers. Other researchers have come to similar conclusions. On average, conversations lasted a whopping People of all personality types had a good time.
But is the other person enjoying it? So to test whether both parties were enjoying these interactions, Epley and Schroeder created another experiment. Between tasks unrelated to the research at hand, participants took breaks in a waiting room. Some of these subjects were told to talk with the other person in the room and others were told not to talk; the people they were with were given no instructions. The ones who talked—both the people who started the conversation and the people they talked with—reported having a ificantly better experience than those who did not. They predicted, on average, that less than half of the people they approached would talk with them.
They expected that starting the conversation would be hard. But people were interested in talking with them, and not a single one was rejected. This misperception deters people from seeking out these interactions, and in turn deprives them of not only short-term boosts of happiness and belonging but also more lasting benefits, such as meeting new friends, romantic partners, or business contacts.
But a deeper force is at play here too. Participants in these studies expected very little from the conversations themselves. That prediction is telling. Why did it come as such a surprise that a stranger could be approachable, cordial, and interesting? So she set out to teach them.
In collaboration with the now-defunct London group called Talk to Me, Sandstrom ran a series of events that aimed to show people how enjoyable talking with strangers could be—and to learn more about why people were so hesitant to do it. She has since developed some techniques to help allay these fears. For instance, she tells people to follow their curiosity—notice something, compliment a person, or ask them a question.
Generally, though, she just lets people figure it out themselves. Once they get over the initial hump, they find it comes to them quite naturally. I love it. Read: The club where you bare your soul to strangers. So she tried to engineer a situation in which talking with strangers, through sheer repetition, would become natural enough to people that they would simply begin to do it out of habit, free of all the usual fears.
Participants found it was much easier to start and maintain a conversation with a stranger, and the conversations lasted three times longer than they predicted. About 80 percent said that they learned something new. Forty-one percent said that they exchanged contact information with someone. Some participants made friends, went on dates, got coffee. A week after completing the scavenger hunt, participants were more confident of their conversational abilities and less afraid of rejection.
And the way they thought about other people changed as well. When I asked Sandstrom about this, she said something that took me back to the story of Nic, her fearful childhood, and her experience with Greyhound Therapy.
Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe. Left: Matthew and JeromyOhio. Richard Renaldi.Looking for someone to talk to and more
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