One of the many lessons we were forced to learn from the pandemic was the importance of social interaction and the devastation of social isolation. And even outside of our intimate relationships with friends and family, even tenuous social bonds are essential to our sense of well-being. I know how easy it is to shut myself off from conversation with strangers. (I mean, as a woman, I’ve been conditioned to do this for my own safety.) However, forming short relationships with peripheral members of our social networks a powerful influence.
Here’s how to start embracing these often-overlooked conversations, and how they can make your life a little more enjoyable.
why you need small social relationships
recent Research shows that even weak social interactions—such as a quick exchange with a barista or a stranger on the sidewalk—contribute positively to our well-being. The psychologists behind these studies are gillian sandstrom, whose task is to combat social isolation. on an episode of the podcast hidden brainShe further states that people who seek out weak social ties ultimately feel greater life satisfaction and have a greater sense of belonging.
It’s easy to live life with your head down, avoiding the far reaches of your social network, like co-workers you never chat with or neighbors whose names you can’t remember. You may not feel lacking in your life, but by avoiding such small talk, you may be depriving yourself of potential happiness.
how to make small relationships
I’m the kind of person who can crack jokes into a microphone in front of a crowd, but would be too nervous to ask the barista for the WiFi password. Previous research on social interaction suggests that the pessimism we feel toward talking to strangers is On Large scale, We worry about making a fool of ourselves, when in reality, chatting with a stranger on the subway or taking the time to ask your cashier’s name is a mutually beneficial experience for all parties—wSome important caveats, of course. Here are some tips for starting to create the little relationships in your life so we can all feel a little less lonely.
Look at the periphery of your social network. Sandstrom defines weak ties as when there is mutual familiarity between you and an acquaintance. Think of your favorite coffee shop, your grocery store, your gym—every day we cross paths with some The same people Take the courageous first step in admitting that you and a stranger may know each other. Introduce yourself so that you are no longer strangers, and are now acquaintances.
See. literally! Consider taking out your ear buds, looking up from your phone and smiling at others as you go about your day. You can start recognizing familiar faces to introduce yourself later, You may be making yourself available to someone who needs directions, or you may feel less alone with a small wave or nod. from a stranger
Don’t be creepy. Sadly you have to think through the dynamic of who you are trying to engage with here. As I mentioned at the top, most women have been conditioned not to engage in conversation with strange men., That’s just reality. Respect people’s boundaries and don’t force conversation with someone who clearly wants to be left alone.
Listen to your gut. Similar to above: If you’re concerned that your small talk is putting the other person in danger (or putting you in danger!), Listen to that instinct. However, if you fear awkwardness or embarrassment, push yourself to overcome that worry.
And hey, if you’re the kind of person who wants to avoid unwanted conversation, keep those headphones on and look at the ground. But if you feel safe asking a stranger their name, then go for it. May it bring both of you a little more joy in your days.