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Opening Arguments

Talk to me

I'm the type who lurks in the corner at parties and reads to avoid eye contact in waiting rooms, so I can relate to this:

Determined not to make eye contact with anyone on the subway? You’re not alone, but our commutes would be happier if we socialized more, according to a new study.

“Connecting with strangers on a train may not bring the same long-term benefits as connecting with friends,” University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Nicholas Epley said in a press release. “But commuters on a train into downtown Chicago reported a significantly more positive commute when they connected with a stranger than when they sat in solitude.”

Over the course of nine experiments, the researchers learned that people predict that social isolation will result in a more enjoyable commute or waiting room experience. But the participants ended up reporting positive feedback both being spoken to and initiating conversation with a stranger.

But I've been forcing myself to start up more conservations lately, or at least participate in ones others start, because I discovered on my own what this study concluded: Interacton does make us feel better. And it's not just that conversation can be satisfying even with strangers -- sometimes those are even more satisfying. Because I'm not emotionally invested in the talk, it's possible just to enjoy shooting the breeze with no expectations.  I have a barber now who -- unlike most of the others I've ever known -- does not engage in endless chatter unless it's inititated by the customer. I find I enjoy the haircut a lot more when I do talk to him.