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  • Felice Cohen

Small Talk, Big Benefits


small talk

I know I did.

Four Fairway employees moved behind the counter in their choreographed dance, carving meats and scooping roasted vegies into containers. No doubt they were tired too. In the midst of placing orders, one person was slowing things down. One Fairway deli man called out the next number and said to his customer, “Hi, how was your day?”

Groans appeared from folks waiting their turn. I admit to being one.

“Uh, it was okay,” answered the male customer, taken aback. “How was yours?”

“It was great, thanks for asking.” Smiled the employee. Faces looked up from their cell phones as the banter continued.

“Only one piece of salmon?” joked the employee. “Certainly a big guy like you can eat more.”

“Oh, I’d also like three pieces of chicken.”

“Now we’re talking,” joked the employee.

Customers were now exchanging that “Only in New York” expression, while wearing genuine smiles. Even though we were not part of the conversation, it lightened the mood for each of us.

Turns out, that’s what small talk does. Makes us happier. But small talk has been swallowed up by cell phones, and instead of engaging with strangers while waiting for a bus or talking to our doormen, we’re texting or Snap Chatting. In losing our communications with people, we’re losing out on connections. And we need it now, more than ever.

Researchers from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that “even a little interaction with your regular barista at the coffee shop, can contribute to day-to-day well-being.” Imagine feeling cheerier from a simple, “How you doin’?” whether they’re a friend or not. And you never know, your new best friend or soul mate could be just inches past your cell phone and all you need to do is look up.

So as I waited my turn in Fairway, I was hoping to get the chatty employee. Sure enough.

“How was your day?” he asked me.

“It was fabulous,” I said, seeing heads turn to me. “I met the nicest guy at Fairway.”

Click here for some tips on making small talk.

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