Saturday, September 23, 2023

talking to strangers


The Economist

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Tom Nuttall
Senior digital editor

After the hurly-burly of the working week, many of us seek an escape on our days off. If you’re introverted, you might take the opportunity to get away from humans altogether. But sometimes the world—and the strangers who inhabit it—has other plans. 

It is reasonable to be wary of strangers; they are, after all, easy to misunderstand. But some people like to chat, even if they have no idea who you are. So it is wise to prepare yourself. You may be making a gesture, sharing a smile or partaking in small talk; studies show that such interactions can make you happier. You might even take lessons from Madame de Staël, an intellectual of the French ancien régime, who described the art of conversation as a “sort of electricity that causes sparks to fly.” 

Still, often a friendly “hi” will suffice. Studies show that loneliness can be a debilitating problem. So consider breaking out of your comfort zone. You might not appreciate the power your friendliness can have. 

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