Most people spend part of their everyday life surrounded by strangers, whether on their daily commute, sitting in a park or café, or visiting the supermarket. But how many times have you hesitated to interact with these strangers out of the belief that it would make both of you uncomfortable? It turns out that these beliefs, while common among people, may actually be unwarranted.
Research shows that people tend to underestimate the positive impact of connecting with others for both their own and others’ wellbeing. For example, having a conversation with a stranger on your way to work may leave you both feeling happier than you would think. What’s more, research has also found that simply reaching out to a fellow human being to say hello may be better received than people realize. Few start a conversation with a stranger, but most seem happy to talk if you reach out with good intentions.
These brief connections with strangers are not likely to turn a life of misery into one of bliss. However, they can change unpleasant moments – like the grind of a daily commute – into something more pleasant. So, the next time you’d like to help a stranger with something, or strike up a conversation, but are worried about how they might react, simply give it a try.