Silent train and bus journeys can be long and miserable. According to a new study, you can make those trips more enjoyable by engaging in small talk with strangers.
Picture: Arlo Bates/Flickr
Researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business divided commuters into three groups — one told to ignore their fellow travellers, another told to speak with another passenger, the third given no direction. Those asked to interact with other commuters had the most pleasant journeys, while those remaining silent had the least enjoyable commute.
Inspired by this, writer John Corcoran conducted a 21-day “happiness experiment”. As part of it he decided “chat up strangers at every opportunity” and found the experience rewarding too:
“Overall, I felt great about most of my interactions with strangers. Almost every interaction left me feeling a little happier. I also felt like I learned new things by talking to people from different walks of life who I wouldn’t normally meet. I didn’t have a single experience where I felt awkward, or where I felt like I bothered someone by engaging in conversation.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to go out of your way to bother people, but a little casual chit-chat can brighten someone’s day. Hit the link for tips on mastering the art of small talk.
How to Make Small Talk with Strangers [The Art of Manliness]