Journalist Jamie Waters writing in the Observer discusses the growing body of research that suggests by striking up a conversation with a random person is actually good for you and can give you a small buzz. He suggests that we mostly interact with people via phone, apps and social media and that this use of technology has made unplanned interactions with others awkward. This awkwardness has been further exacerbated by the pandemic, social distancing and the use of face masks. Jamie undertakes to talk to as many strangers as possible over a two-week period, but indicates his concern in doing so, namely fear of them finding him annoying! The purpose is to see what happens when blinkers are removed and he opens himself to interact with unfamiliar faces.
Jamie indicates that it may seem simple but with no frame of reference it is a dance like no other, there is a need to really listen and watch the body language as you think about your responses. He found after the two weeks that that the act of noticing people in order to talk to them was very satisfying and meant he was better connected to the surroundings. He learnt to try different openings rather than the normal, “How are you?” to, “Is that a good book you are reading?” “Or I like your trainers”. Maybe this something we can try. The conversation mental health starter toolkit: SIGNSS maybe helpful as well
Jamie concludes by saying talking to strangers can make our lives happier, knottier and more colourful ‘but most of all it forces us to open our eyes’.
Whilst the article indicates that by talking to strangers, we can make our lives happier and more colourful at Jonathan’s Voice we recognise the importance of being able to talk to someone and connecting with others in helping their and our own mental well- being.
Thanks for this really interesting piece, Jackie. My experience is that there are far more people who have become dog owners during the pandemic. I have found that a comment (positive!) or a question about the dog always initiates a conversation which often leads to topics far beyond the initial question which I have found interesting and stimulating.