What better way to spice up your life than by taking a moment to speak with a stranger—and if you are up for an even bigger challenge, having an intimate conversation? This statement might seem drastic, but research finds that people benefit from deep and meaningful conversations.
When conversing with strangers, many of us prefer to stick with small talk because, as researchers share, we often underestimate how interested strangers are in our lives. According to a 2021 study by Michael Kardas and colleagues, it is common for individuals to create a psychological barrier to engaging in deep conversations with strangers. However, they found that when individuals engaged in fulfilling conversations with strangers, many were surprised by the connection and happiness that arose from the conversation, with some even feeling less awkward.
This topic has gained great interest from both scholars and the public alike, which led individuals like Joe Keohane to write a book titled The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World. Keohane’s book looks at the health and well-being implications that come with talking to strangers. It attempts to uncover what happens when we work to bridge the distance between us and those whom we do not know.
Keohane points out that individuals and societies who learn to connect with strangers demonstrate clear benefits. By using recent research on this topic, Keohane shares that even passing interactions can have positive effects on our empathy, happiness, and even cognitive development by providing us with a sense of belonging.
So, what does that mean for you? It means you should talk to strangers and build a sense of connection in your community. While you shouldn’t be nosy or invasive, you can definitely try asking people about their passions, hobbies, and families instead of the weather. People are more interested in your life than you may think.