“Conversation distinguishes the human being from the animal and the civilized man from the barbarian.”
– Michael Oakeshott
Nurturing our conversational lives has many benefits, including learning about the world around us and our own selves, stimulating creativity, engendering social bonds, and enabling our capacity for empathy and change. More importantly, conversation is the bridge that connects our individual selves with those of people around us. To find richness, meaning, and purpose in our lives, we must feel a sense of belonging.
Conversation enables us to recognize the humanity in others, and thereby in ourselves. So it was a pleasure to read the article, “Hello, Stranger,” by Elizabeth W. Dunn and Michael Norton in the New York Times, referencing several studies demonstrating how social interactions have remarkable power to create a positive emotional response. One study illustrated how even behavior as basic as genuinely engaging your coffee shop barista, instead of adopting an “in-and-out” efficiency, left those people feeling more cheerful.
It turns out that investing in social capital, a non-monetary endeavor, by interacting with the people that we find around us from time to time yields simple yet rich benefits to our lives. Go ahead, try it…
[… If you still feel daunted chit chatting with someone that is a weak tie or stranger, I rather enjoyed this article, “Do This Don’t: Talk to Strangers on the Subway,” by Carla Ciccone, which has a few tips, and illustrations… ]