I don’t know about you but during the course of my day I come into contact with lots of people – waiters, store clerks, clients, other tenants in my office building, neighbors, fellow church goers, etc., etc.
Most of those people are somewhat familiar faces but a few of them are new and unknown. My temptation is to just smile, nod and go on – after all, I have things to do. I mean, I lead a busy life and don’t always have time for chit chat.
But research is showing some surprising benefits in taking time to get to know and connect with new people in our lives. And we all have them. Here are some of the benefits (and I found some surprises):
Improved cognitive performance
Better mental attitude
Improved ability to learn to accept new ideas and ways of thinking
A study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin states that as little as 10 minutes of contact and conversation with a new person actively uses the parts of your brain that are required to talk to other people and process social cues. This, in turn, wakes up those parts of your brain and improves your thinking. In other words, meeting new people gives your brain a workout. Who knew?
Something else that happens is – meeting new people can open up new opportunities. I’ve had this experience several times. I meet someone at a social event and start talking to them. We discover some common ground (people we both know, places we used to live, etc.) and the other person mentions something that is exactly what I had been looking for – and would never have thought of on my own. So cool!
Then there is the fact that new people can turn into friends – and we can never have too many of those. Friends can:
Boost happiness and reduce stress
Help you cope with traumas
Encourage you to change habits
Sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down and take the time to actually have a conversation with someone instead of rushing past them.
Yes, it can require some effort and patience but it’s worth it. What about you – who do you need to connect with?