How small talk can boost your well-being – and influence kids

Your small talk with the coffee barista or chitchat with the person sitting next to you on the train could contribute to your health.  

In her Wall Street Journal article, “The Benefits of a Little Small Talk,” contributing writer Jennifer Wallace writes that interactions with casual acquaintances “can contribute to day-to-day well-being” and “a greater sense of belonging and happiness.”

“Researchers actually looked at strong ties – the conversations we have with our families – and compared it to these small interactions, and these make us just as happy,” Wallace said Thursday on “CBS This Morning.”

Good listening is essential, she said.

“One of the tips an expert gave me was, don’t just be a backboard. We’re taught to just regurgitate what we hear. Instead, work more like a trampoline and add depth to the conversation if you have time,” Wallace said.

Ask interesting questions.

“Don’t talk about yourself and what you know, find something out that you don’t know already,” she said.

Your small talk with a stranger can also impact children who are observing.

“Children learn kindness and empathy, not just by how we treat the people closest to us, but how we treat strangers. That they’re not invisible,” Wallace said. “We appreciate the waitress. We say thank you to the bus driver. It opens their circle of compassion and caring.”

Here are some tips for successful small talk:

  • Find common ground
  • Commiserate
  • Go deep
  • Embrace ignorance
  • Ask interesting questions
  • Exit gracefully