How many people do you see everyday, but don’t actually know? Do you even know their names? It’s common in today’s society to rush by the same door-greeter, librarian, or gym staff without saying more than a “hello” or “thank you.” I realized last week that it’s pathetic in its own way.
I have been striving to get to know people and to initiate conversations with strangers more often. The main goal is to talk to the staff that help me in my day-to-day life. I’ve been applying this daily at my gym and at the local library. There are two reasons behind this, besides it being pathetic that I don’t even know the staff’s names.
My first reason is to build a network of people. I don’t want to be hidden from society. In order for a person to thrive, there must be contact with others. Also being on good terms with people makes them likely to be a support, or even a friend someday. There is absolutely no harm in merely getting to know someone you see daily. Putting forth positive energy is how you can make a change in the world, albeit a small one in your community.
My second reason to it builds a stronger community. Or at least within your niche in life. Having community support has been shown to alleviate depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. Those who have strong ties to the community have been shown to be overall happier and not feel lonely. There is also a pride in getting to say that you know all the staff at the gym, at your apartment, or the people at the bottom rung of the ladder in your office. Reaching out to them probably makes their day a bit brighter too. Like building a network, it sends out positive energy that will eventually make its way back to you.
My third reason is that practicing small talk with strangers builds you up for important, nerve-wracking conversation. Also, it seems that the art of conversation is getting lost. People tend to abuse the word “like”, “um”, and “whatever.” When talking to people who may not really matter it can be a chance to improve your verbal presentation of yourself.
Here is an example from my personal life. For the past three years I have been going to the gym at the same time in the morning four times a week. There are five staff that rotate shifts. While they just know my name from when I swipe my membership card and it registers on the computer, I do not know their names. Most of the time I just say “hi” to them or ask a question about changes in gym hours during events or school breaks. This is quite sad. After three years, there has been minimal interaction. After my realization, I have been striking up a conversation with the gym staff. All my interactions have been positive and enriching in its own sense. I also feel less pathetic for not knowing the people I see nearly daily.
Even though it is a such a little change you can make, I highly recommend doing it. Having any type of bond helps you thrive and be happier in the long run.