There’s an unspoken rule on the tube: idle nattering is banned and eye-contact is out of the question. But could a casual chat on our commute make us happier?
According to Dr Gillian Sandstrom, a social psychologist at the University of Essex who specialises in social interactions, the tube is an instant conversation killer. Why? Because there’s zero personal space: ‘When you’re jammed up in someone’s armpit, you probably feel uncomfortable talking to them,’ she explains. Better save those meaningful conversations for a quiet afternoon on the Overground instead.
But if the idea of chitchat with a stranger freaks you out, you’re not alone. Thirty seven percent of Londoners say talking to strangers makes them uncomfortable – we’re the least receptive chatters in the UK. But Sandstrom says we should persevere. ‘People think they’re not going to enjoy interacting with strangers, but research suggests that they’ll enjoy it more than they think. It makes us feel more connected.’
Fancy breaking the silence? Take Sandstrom’s advice. ‘Be brave. And if it’s a disaster, don’t worry. You’ll never see the same person twice on the tube.’ See you for a DMC on the District line, then.
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