Growing up, we were all taught to be wary of strangers. While a certain amount of “stranger danger” can be a good thing to keep us safe, science tells us that avoiding interactions with people we don’t know can actually lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
The necessary social distancing measures we’ve taken during the COVID-19 pandemic have only worsened these feelings, leading many people to become more isolated than ever. However, multiple studies have proven that talking to strangers is actually good for your mental and physical health!
1. Many people assume that strangers don’t want to talk to them, so they stay silent.
But studies show this perception is false — people reported feeling happier and more content after having even a brief exchange with a stranger on their daily commute.
2. Friendly chitchat benefits both parties, not just the person who initiated the conversation.
You could literally make someone’s day just by asking where they got that nice scarf they’re wearing!
3. Talking to others boosts our self-confidence and makes us feel accepted by creating a sense of community with those around us.
4. You just might learn something new.
One study instructed people to converse with a fellow commuter on the train, and about 80 percent of them reported learning something they didn’t know.
5. You might make a new friend or business acquaintance.
In that same study, 41 percent exchanged contact information and agreed to keep in touch.
6. Being friendly and polite makes us feel like good humans.
In fact, research shows that chatting with a stranger has the same positive effect on our brains as doing a good deed.
7. Shoppers who chat with store employees or other strangers reported having a happier experience than those who stayed quiet.
Talking to the cab or Uber driver also makes the ride go by faster.
8. Our world is so polarized these days; hearing a different point of view is a good way to open your mind to new perspectives.
9. Being friendly with your neighbors can improve your health and give you a sense of belonging.
10. The more you do it, the easier it gets!
People become more confident in their conversational abilities and don’t fear rejection as much after just a few short interactions with strangers.
Remember, even though we’ve been through scary times in recent years, most people are generally very helpful and kind! Next time you’re sitting next to a stranger, strike up a conversation and see what happens. Chances are, both of you will walk away with renewed hope and a happier outlook.
Share this story to encourage your friends to talk to strangers, too.
Note: Please follow COVID-19 safety guidelines in your area, and help us keep our communities healthy!
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