Being a social butterfly in today’s times is quite frankly, a highly revered attribute. And it’s easy to see why. The ability to swiftly adapt to almost any environment you might potentially find yourself in is indeed a skill many of us want to acquire. Surely enough, this adaptability includes having both a verbal repertoire capable of transcending the diversity of various social circles, as well as the non-verbal cues mastered to a tee. A jovial smile will almost always be preferred in the detriment of a stern judgmental look aimed at the people you are conversing with.

 

“Making those you interact with feel welcomed and as if their presence honestly makes a difference is quite a considerate gesture to throw people’s way.”

 

Making those you interact with feel welcomed and as if their presence honestly makes a difference is quite a considerate gesture to throw people’s way. And it makes it understandable to want to be on the receiving end of such pleasantries too, at least from time to time. So then, should making small-talk be regarded as one of those genuine indicators of ‘niceness’? Of course not. Life doesn’t really work that simplistically, nor do social interactions. In fact, ask anyone around and there is a fairly good chance they’ll claim that successfully navigating social interactions is one of the toughest beasts to conquer.

However, it’s also pretty easy to spot the reason why being able to make small-talk has come to be regarded as one of the trademarks of outgoing people everywhere. On some level, not breaking out in hives when talking to acquaintances is a somewhat reliable indicator of one’s level of self-assurance and ability of making their own company feel comfortable to others.

Finding it not that harrowing of a task to easily change sceneries from one social circle to another and to swiftly change the topic of a conversation that is slowly dying down into a tongue-tied session does point to having acquired a certain mastery of the communicative arts. And that in itself can only really be attained by spending at least a couple of hours outside the fluffiest parts of your comfort zone.

In a nutshell, we all see why seemingly exuding the least of anxiety when easily conversing with those around is regarded as one of those instruments for measuring qualities many people wish they’d have, since it probably makes a hell of a difference in lowering stress levels. It just looks like a wonderfully delicious cake to have, so naturally, you want to it eat too.

 

“These analyses indicate that participants who were happier than one would predict from their personality had more, and more substantive, conversations. Together, the findings demonstrate that the happy life is social rather than solitary and conversationally deep rather than superficial.”

 

However, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona, Mehl Matthias, has published the vastly intriguing study titled “Eavesdropping on Happiness: Well-being is Related to Having Less Small Talk and More Substantive Conversations”, in the April issue of the medical journal Psychology Science, in 2010. The professor is a self-proclaimed avid researcher of the effects that our everyday social lives have on our psyche, having focused on studying the connection between our personalities, their articulation in our social lives and overall happiness. What is of particular interest is the fact that within the paper I referred to earlier the focus was mainly placed on this tiny, but highly debated part of our social repertoires, small-talk.

The research consisted in ‘eavesdropping’ on the daily shenanigans of seventy-nine undergraduates by means of a state-of-the-art Electronically Activated Recorder that the respondents kept on themselves throughout the course of four days, in order to render as authentically as possible the contents of small-talk, which is one of the trickiest types of interactions to be able to accurately record in as scientifically a manner as possible. The EAR intermittently kept recording snippets of the undergraduates’ whereabouts for a period of 30 seconds at intervals of 12.5 minutes.

 

“So, the blissful conclusion seems to be that both the awkward owls among us that tend to avoid small-talk, as well as the chirpiest of fellow folks are covered when it comes to having equal chances to seizing happiness.”

 

In addition to having carefully constructed the entire study’s design, professor Mehl made sure to repeatedly measure his findings by using a variety of methods for analysis and interpretation yielding promising results as they proved to be consistent across participants’ interpretation of overall well-being. But let’s just skip to the point, since going into further detail means having to disentangle a jungle of scientific jargon.

The results showed that a higher percentage of well-being can be clearly associated with spending more time talking to others and less time spent alone. In all honesty, the crux of the matter should be told in the researcher’s own words:

“These analyses indicate that participants who were happier than one would predict from their personality had more, and more substantive, conversations. Together, the findings demonstrate that the happy life is social rather than solitary and conversationally deep rather than superficial.”

So, the blissful conclusion seems to be that both the awkward owls among us that tend to avoid small-talk, as well as the chirpiest of fellow folks are covered when it comes to having equal chances to seizing happiness. Do what it is that you do best, and keep doing it. There’s plenty of room for all of us creatures, tempestuous and tranquil alike.

 

Written by: O.P.
Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861779/, http://psychology.arizona.edu/mehl/