It’s been days since I posted and if I was sitting next to you on the subway, or standing next to you in an elevator, I might tell you about it. Yes, I am one of those people who can’t seem to help themselves: I smile at strangers on the street, I talk to strangers on elevators. It drives my NYC-son crazy.
Now it is my turn to say “Hah!”. It turns out that talking to strangers is a mood lifter for all concerned and there is data to support that. You can read about it here in the NY Times. It’s a short read and worth the time it takes. Hers’ a teaser, quoted from the article:
“The behavioral scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder approached commuters in a Chicago area train station and asked them to break the rules. In return for a $5 Starbucks gift card, these commuters agreed to participate in a simple experiment during their train ride. One group was asked to talk to the stranger who sat down next to them on the train that morning. Other people were told to follow standard commuter norms, keeping to themselves. By the end of the train ride, commuters who talked to a stranger reported having a more positive experience than those who had sat in solitude.”
I have come to realize that each one of us is actually living a life that is one, long story. Who doesn’t love a story?! We heard stories read to us as children, we watch them on screens, and we read stories in books. When a stranger and I interact, we offer each other a glimpse of our own unique story. You may not think your story is interesting because you are used to it but to someone else, it’s new and different.
Most of us like to think that we are open-minded. I know I like to think that of myself but I’m like everyone else… I don’t break out of my personal bubble often. Interacting with complete strangers is one way to that I put myself in a position to hear, and learn, something different. I can tell you that it works for me.