Why is confiding in strangers sometimes more comfortable than you think?

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2022-01-04 16:31:04

When we were young, we were often told by our parents that: “Never talk to strangers“. Ironically, as we grow up, there are many things we are more likely to open up to strangers than our own parents.

You can talk about your failures, your burdens in life, even ask for advice from a stranger you just met on the bus, a taxi driver you know you’ll never see again. . On the contrary, there is often a difficult moment when we want to share our deepest thoughts and feelings with our friends and loved ones.

A new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology now shows that in-depth conversations with strangers actually benefit everyone. While we often think of opening up to strangers as more difficult, reluctant, and awkward than it is with acquaintances, this new study should encourage you to do it boldly.

To discover what sociologists call “the stranger’s paradox“, they conducted a total of 12 experiments on 1,800 individuals to examine their attitudes in conversations and interactions with strangers.

Participants ranged in age and industry, from students to CEOs of large companies. They were asked to measure expectations before engaging in conversations.”shallow” and “deep“, with strangers and acquaintances they consider to be soulmates. The results of these conversations are analyzed again once they are over.

Shallow conversations will revolve around topics such as lifestyle, TV shows, hairstyles, weather… While deep conversations are designed to touch on people’s sensitive and vulnerable issues. participants, such as researchers asking them to describe a time in their life when they cried or felt grateful.

The results showed that before initiating both shallow and deep conversations, participants tended to underestimate their expectations. That is, they don’t think strangers will care about their stories or feelings. Conversely, they may assume that strangers will find them more awkward and awkward.

But in fact, the results of the interview after the conversation showed the opposite, most of the volunteers felt that the stranger really listened to them. Embarrassment was no longer an issue, and those who engaged in deep conversations with strangers felt a greater sense of connectedness and well-being.

Why is confiding in strangers sometimes more comfortable than you think?  - Photo 2.

Behavior scientist Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business said:In life, people are often reluctant to engage in deep and meaningful conversations. But in reality, every meaningful connection with others makes us happier.

This led us to an interesting social paradox: if connecting with others in profound and meaningful ways increases happiness, why don’t people do it more often in their lives? daily?”.

The short answer is ‘expectations have been mis-corrected’ our behavior, say Epley and his colleagues. “People often imagine that if they reveal something meaningful or important about themselves in conversation, they will only be met with blank stares and silence.“, he said.

But this is not true in actual conversations. Humans are a deeply social species and tend to reciprocate in conversation. If you share something meaningful and important, you are likely to receive something meaningful and important in return. This leads to a significantly more quality conversation.”

So next time you’re sitting next to someone on the bus, train or taxi – studies in the UK and US show these are the environments that lead to the best quality conversations with strangers. – try taking your story beyond the weather and go a little deeper.

There’s evidence that deeper conversations lead to greater happiness and health for both you and the person you’re talking to. Epley said:As the pandemic subsides and we all get back to talking to each other, being aware that others enjoy a meaningful conversation can save you time for petty conversations. deeper, more pleasurable, and more meaningful interactions.”

Why is confiding in strangers sometimes more comfortable than you think?  - Photo 3.

In case you don’t know how to open up to a stranger, here are some suggestions for you:

Step 1: Observe if someone is available to chat. Try making eye contact or smiling to see if they respond. If they respond in a friendly manner, that’s your chance to open up. If they continue to cross their arms or avoid your gaze, they may not be in the mood for conversation.

Step 2: Use friendly body language. Adjust your posture before you speak. Turn toward them, leaning slightly forward to show you want to talk. But please pay attention to keep personal distance. Strangers are often uncomfortable if you are too close. Don’t cross your arms, be tense or shy, let your body language be as natural as possible, imagine you are talking to a close friend.

Step 3: Start shallow stories. Say hello, introduce yourself, especially your name, and ask a stranger’s name to start a conversation. Then talk about shallow topics, around things, TV news, newspapers, don’t forget a few compliments to the stranger you’re talking to.

Step 4: Ask open-ended questions and start deeper stories. After “ice break“There is a quiet atmosphere between the two of you, this is the time when you can ask open-ended questions for strangers to share about themselves, as well as share your own stories and confidants. your listening and you will be heard back.

Refer to Sciencealert



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