Small Talk May Make Us Happier
From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.
Small talk. Chitchat. These are the short conversations we have at parties, while we wait in line at the store, at family events or work.
Sometimes we make small talk with people we already know but not well. Often we have to make small talk with complete strangers.
Many people find these small conversations about random topics difficult. Some people say they hate it. Others say small talk is a waste of time. They may even call it idle chitchat or idle chatter, meaning it doesn't do anything. They consider small talk not important.
However, small talk is important.
These exchanges can open doors that may lead to larger, more meaningful conversations. When you first meet someone or talk to someone you don't know well, it would be awkward to begin a conversation about a really deep topic such as war, politics or the meaning of life.
Small talk also gives you the chance to decide if you want to get know that person better – or not. Let's say you make small talk with someone at a party. But they only want to talk about cats. You may not want to build a friendship with them unless you really, really love cats.
Chitchat can also increase your feeling of understanding, or empathy, toward people you know but not well. Chatting with a colleague about their child may help you to understand more of their life outside the office. This could help build healthy work relationships.
Small talk could even help our larger communities -- our relationships with neighbors and colleagues. Exchanging a recipe with a neighbor in your apartment building may make her noises upstairs easier to live with.
And small talk may make us happier!
In 2011, most commuters in the city of Chicago said they would enjoy "quiet cars" where they sat alone and did not talk to anybody.
Researchers at the University of Chicago then asked some participants in a study to talk to people while commuting to work on a train. They found that those who made small talk with strangers were happier than those who sat alone.
In 2013, researchers from the University of Essex in Britain asked some people to make small talk in a similar study. They found people who talked briefly with a cashier in a coffee shop felt happier than those who simply went in, ordered and left.
However, some people are not good at small talk. Making small talk doesn't have to be either awkward or boring. Here are some tips to improve your small-talking ability.
Tips for making small talk
1. Have some conversation starters ready.
If you have seen a really good movie or have read a really good book, you can talk about that. You can talk about something that you recently learned.
When you are sharing the same experience with someone, it's easy to start a conversation. You simply notice and comment on what's going on around you. For example, if you are at a party and a song comes on that you like or that reminds you of something, you can talk about that.
2. Ask open-ended questions.
These types of questions require more thought and more than a simple one-word answer. If you ask questions that need more details to answer, the conversation will go on longer.
For example, if you are at a summer pool party, don't ask a person if they like summer. Instead, ask them what they like or dislike about summer. So, instead of getting a one-word answer, you might have the chance to share in a memory.
3. Become a student.
Nobody knows everything. So, as someone is answering one of your open-ended questions, they bring up something about which you know nothing. So, tell them!
This lets the other person become the teacher. They feel good about sharing their knowledge and you get to learn something. It's a win-win situation.
4. Don't ask, "So, what do you do?"
Some people do not like their jobs. Or maybe they don't want to talk about it. So, instead of asking, "What do you do for a living?" ask something like, "So, what have you been doing these days?" or "So, what have you been up to?"
One general question can lead to an opportunity to share something you have in common. So, ask questions. Ask people about their families, their passions, their ambitions or even their fears.
However, balance these questions with comments about yourself. Asking too many questions may make people feel they are in an interview rather than in a conversation.
Practice makes perfect
Like anything, getting good at making small talk takes practice.
If you make small talk in your native language, you might become happier. If you are making small talk using English, you will most definitely improve your speaking and listening skills.
And that's the Health & Lifestyle report.
I'm Anna Matteo.
1.win-win situation 双赢局面
You know, for me this is a win-win situation.
2.have in common 有...共同点
I think you may find that's another thing we have in common.
3.lead to 导致
A lack of prudence may lead to financial problems.
4.Practice makes perfect 熟能生巧
If you want to improve your study and work, you should remember that practice makes perfect.
1.So, as someone is answering one of your open-ended questions, they bring up something about which you know nothing.
bring up 提出；养育
His grandmother and his father brought him up.
Don't bring up the past anymore.
2.These are the short conversations we have at parties, while we wait in line at the store, at family events or work.
wait in line 排队等候
Do you always have to wait in line like this?
Do you wait in line for the bus?
寒暄、闲谈 。这些是聚会中、购物排队时、家庭活动或工作中常见的简短对话 。
有时候我们会与只有一面之交的人闲聊 。我们还免不了与陌生人闲谈 。
很多人觉得这种随机话题的闲聊很难 。有些人表示他们反感这种闲聊，还有人说闲聊就是浪费时间 。他们甚至认为闲谈就是空谈，这种交流毫无营养 。他们认为闲聊并不重要 。
这种交谈能帮我们开启更广泛、更有意义的对话的大门 。当你与初次见面或不太了解的人谈论战争、政治或人生意义等深入性话题会让气氛尴尬 。
闲聊也能让你决定是否要深入了解对方 。假设你在聚会时与人闲聊，但是对方只想谈论猫，除非你也是爱猫人士，不然你可能不想与他们建立友谊 。
闲聊还能加深你对不熟悉之人的了解或共鸣 。跟同事聊聊他们的小孩可帮助你了解他们工作以外的生活 。这能帮你建立良好的工作关系 。
闲聊甚至能提升与邻居和同事的关系 。与邻居交换食谱能够让你更容易适应楼上的喧闹声 。
2013年，在英国埃塞克斯大学发起的某项类似研究中，研究人员要求志愿者与人闲聊 。他们发现，在咖啡店与收银员闲聊的人比直接进店、点餐和离开的人感觉更快乐 。
然而，有些人不擅长闲聊 。闲聊不一定都是尴尬或无聊的 。分享一些提高闲聊能力的贴士 。
假如你看过一部很好的电影或读过一本不错的书，你可以作为谈资 。你还可以聊聊最近的收获 。
与别人分享相似的经历比较容易打开话匣子 。你只需留意并评价一下周遭发生的事情 。例如，聚会上的音乐十分合你胃口或让你忆起一些往事，你不妨谈论一下 。
这类问题需要更多地思考，而无法用一两字结束 。如果你的问题需要详细的回答，那么对话的时间会久一些 。
例如，你身处夏季泳池聚会，不要问对方是否喜欢夏天 。相反，你应该询问对于夏天有何感受 。如此就可避免简单的回复，你就有机会分享他人的回忆 。
人非圣贤 。当对方回答你的开放式问题时，他们可能会谈到一些你完全陌生的东西 。所以，大胆说出来吧！
这会让对方成为授业恩师 。他们乐意分享知识，而你也能学到新事物 。这是一种双赢局面 。
有些人不喜欢自己的工作 。或者他们不愿谈及自己的工作 。所以用“近来可好？”或是“最近忙什么呢？”来代替“你做什么工作？”的问题 。
以普通问题做引能让你有机会与人分享共同点 。所以，开始提问吧 。聊聊他们的家庭、感情、理想甚至恐惧 。
不过，你需要发表自我看法来平衡这些问题 。问题太多会让对方觉得是在接受采访而不是攀谈 。
如果你用母语闲聊，你可能会更快乐 。如果你用英语闲聊，那么你绝对能提高口语和听力能力 。