Long Shopping lines? Talk to Others.


Long Shopping lines? Talk to Others.


An experiment in Chicago randomly assigned train and bus riders to either talk to the stranger next to them or commute quietly. The result? Even for introverts, silence leaves you sadder.(http://www.npr.org/2014/12/02/367938704/study-shows-riding-the-quiet-car-is-crushing-your-spirit?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=storiesfromnpr)

What does this mean for the average person during holiday season? Talking to others may provide you a ways to feel happier and less stressed, even when you’ve lots on your plate. We’re social animals and the mere act of communication with others, even strangers, seems to trigger feelings of togetherness and purpose. This study was conducted on trains and buses, but the lesson is applicable in other public places. For example, when you stand in line at the bank, restaurant, bank, post office, or grocery or retail store.

Here are tips for starting a conversation with a stranger during the holidays:
1. Put your phone away.
2. Smile
3. Ask neutral questions or make a comment such as:
“Looking forward to the holidays?”
“How about this weather?”
“A new study says it good for us to talk to strangers, so I’m saying hello.”

What happens when you receive a gruff rebuff? You smile and say, “That person didn’t hear about the study. I need to try again.”

For some people, talking to strangers is natural. For me it is. Once, after a brief and humorous encounter with a stranger who was standing in line at a restaurant, my grandson remarked, “Grandma, you’d talk to a stone!” Yep, that’s about it. Although it may not be natural for you, it is worth a try. If you’re shy, pick a person to talk to who is already smiling.

About Geraldine Markel, Ph.D.

Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. is principal of Managing Your Mind Coaching and Seminars and is author of Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction: Increasing Productivity and Decreasing Stress. She is co author of Finding Your Focus: Practical Strategies for the Everyday Challenges Facing Adults with ADD and Helping Adolescents with ADD and/or Learning Disabilities. At the University of Michigan, Dr. Markel served as faculty in the School of Education. She coaches adults and adolescents with ADD and/or learning disabilities and specializes in working with independent professionals, writers, and graduate students.
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