Whether it’s during a long taxi journey or in the queue at the supermarket, there are often situations where we’re forced to talk to strangers.
While you might be tempted to opt for the standard topic of the weather, a new study suggests it may actually be less awkward to have a deep, meaningful conversation.
Researchers from the University of Chicago conducted a series of experiments in which volunteers engaged in both shallow and more involved conversations.
They found that people often avoid forging deeper connections because they underestimate how interesting other people will find what they have to say.
However, deep meaningful conversations were found to be less awkward, and more enjoyable than small talk.
People actually prefer to have deep, meaningful conversations (as pictured) with strangers over just making small talk — which feels more awkward — a study has found (stock image)
DEEP CONVERSATION STARTERS
If you’re bored of discussing the weather, you might try using the following questions from the study as deeper conversational prompts:
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful? Tell the other participant about it.
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, your future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
- If you were going to become a close friend with the other participant, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Can you describe a time you cried in front of another person?
‘Connecting with others in meaningful ways tends to make people happier,’ said paper author and behavioural scientist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago.
‘People also seem reluctant to engage in deeper and more meaningful conversation. This struck us as an interesting social paradox.
‘If connecting with others in deep and meaningful ways increases well-being, then why aren’t people doing it more often in daily life?’
To try to find an answer to this question, Professor Epley and colleagues performed a series of 12 different experiments involving a total of more …….