Updated: Oct 5
Human beings are a social species and the quality of our interactions actually matters. Not just the quantity or presence of other people around us. An intimate connection even only if for two minutes, can be uplifting and help you to feel happy.
In a study by Matthias Mehl in 2010 put recording devices on participants and followed them for three days listening to their interaction with other people on normal day-to-day basis. Basically they wanted to capture what kinds of interactions these participants were taking part in and the effect they had on their lives.
As for small talk, which is the opposite of substance and depth, drew a negative correlation with well-being and happiness, meaning it actually made people LESS happy.
An earlier study in 1997 conducted by Arthur Erin in which he paired participants who didn't know each other and gave them a list of fairly personal questions, more than small talk to ask (would you like to be famous?) ect...these questions encouraged honesty, more emotional fluency, and sincerity in the respondents. They felt closer to the other participants, who were complete strangers before the experience. They actually found that meaningless small talk should be avoided.
Actually preparing for a conversation before hand you will find it's easier to be witty and much more available for honest answers and open conversation.
These studies have two main findings. First, we tend to think or assume we're better off keeping to ourselves than having short interactions with strangers. Second, we're wrong about the first point. The simple act of engaging people in short bursts has been shown to make us happier and more inclined to be social and it will also help us mentally and physically warm up to be our best. Researcher Steven Handel calls this "10 second relationships ". The key to actually having deeper meaningful conversation Is to treat them with respect and show actual interest in them as a person, which could make you the highlight of their day.
If you have trouble talking to people you can start with just reading out loud and actually trying to feel connected to the characters in the story that you're reading. Basically get emotionally involved putting yourself in their place.
Also to help with this communication process I have put together 25 questions that you can ask on a first date or meet and greet. These questions are thought-provoking interactions, not too personal but will leave you feeling energized after meeting a new person. You will actually feel good even if you don't go any further than the meet and greet. You can find this list of questions in my shop" on this site." Good luck and enjoy the journey!