Here’s Why Talking To Strangers Is Actually Good For Your Health
There are certain rules that have stuck with us since we were kids - eat your greens, always look both ways when crossing the road, and don't speak to strangers.
Whether it's starting up a conversation with the cute guy next to you on the tube, the girl with the nice dress in the office toilets or your fellow dog-walker in the park, you could both be left feeling happier than you'd think.
In an increasingly hostile and insular world, this particular social challenge has a whole host of benefits, with experiments carried out by the BBC showing that those who were randomly assigned to talk to strangers actually experienced the most pleasant commute.
The social experiment took place in Chicago where bus and train commuters were asked how they would feel striking up a conversation rather than keeping to themselves. While initial responses were negative - the majority believed talking would lead to a less pleasant commute - those randomly assigned to talk actually recorded the most pleasant commute when the plan was put into action.
While only 40 per cent of these commuters assumed their fellow train passengers would be willing to take to him, they actually found that every participant who actually tried to talk to a stranger found that person happy to chat.
Here Kio Stark, author of When Strangers Meet: How People You Don't Know Can Transform You, outlines the other benefits of starting that conversation:
Boost confidence: Initiating conversation is the perfect way to push you out of our comfort zone, and as they say, practice makes perfect.
It makes you feel human: It's an "affirmation of your existence", as she puts it, and it's a humanising act to acknowledge the other person.
It helps you to be understood: There are times when we can explain ourselves better to strangers than family and friends, and often they understand us better too, as they can listen to our feelings without having to live them.
Improve your own mood: A brief exchange of hellos as been shown to brighten your mood, so why not just give it a try? Simple, yet effective.
It's good for introverts: The benefit of talking to a stranger is that it can be brief, and you can get away any time, which is great for those with a more shy personality.
While we don't recommend reaching out to every person you pass in the street, the simple act of saying hello can easily change unpleasant moments - like the grind of that daily commute - into something much more pleasant. And you never know, you may well make a friend in the process.
Featured Image Credit: Credit: Unsplash/Yolanda Sun