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Small Talk May Make Us Happier

Small talk may seem, well, small. But each time we make small talk with another
person we build relationships and may feel happier.

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Small talk. Chitchat. These are the short conversations we have at parties, while
we wait in line at the store, at family events or work.

Sometimes we make small talk with people we already know but not well. Often
we have to make small talk with complete strangers.

Many people find these small conversations about random topics difficult. Some
people say they hate it. Others say small talk is a waste of time. They may even
call it idle chitchat or idle chatter, meaning it doesnt do anything. They consider
small talk not important.

However, small talk is important.

These exchanges can open doors that may lead to larger, more meaningful
conversations. When you first meet someone or talk to someone you dont know
well, it would be awkward to begin a conversation about a really deep topic such
as war, politics or the meaning of life.

Small talk also gives you the chance to decide if you want to get know that person
better - or not. Lets say you make small talk with someone at a party. But they
only want to talk about cats. You may not want to build a friendship with them
unless you really, really love cats.

Chitchat can also increase your feeling of understanding, or empathy, toward

people you know but not well. Chatting with a colleague about their child may help
you to understand more of their life outside the office. This could help build
healthy work relationships.

Small talk could even help our larger communities -- our relationships with
neighbors and colleagues. Exchanging a recipe with a neighbor in your apartment
building may make her noises upstairs easier to live with.

And small talk may make us happier!

In 2011, most commuters in the city of Chicago said they would enjoy quiet cars
where they sat alone and did not talk to anybody.

Researchers at the University of Chicago then asked some participants in a study to

talk to people while commuting to work on a train. They found that those who
made small talk with strangers were happier than those who sat alone.
Most people do not talk to strangers while traveling on a subway.

In 2013, researchers from the University of Essex in Britain asked some people to
make small talk in a similar study. They found people who talked briefly with a
cashier in a coffee shop felt happier than those who simply went in, ordered and

However, some people are not good at small talk. Making small talk doesnt have
to be either awkward or boring. Here are some tips to improve your small-talking

Tips for making small talk

1. Have some conversation starters ready.

If you have seen a really good movie or have read a really good book, you can talk
about that. You can talk about something that you recently learned.

When you are sharing the same experience with someone, its easy to start a
conversation. You simply notice and comment on whats going on around you. For
example, if you are at a party and a song comes on that you like or that reminds
you of something, you can talk about that.
2. Ask open-ended questions.

These types of questions require more thought and more than a simple one-word
answer. If you ask questions that need more details to answer, the conversation will
go on longer.

For example, if you are at a summer pool party, dont ask a person if they like
summer. Instead, ask them what they like or dislike about summer. So, instead of
getting a one-word answer, you might have the chance to share in a memory.

3. Become a student.

Nobody knows everything. So, as someone is answering one of your open-ended

questions, they bring up something about which you know nothing. So, tell them!

This lets the other person become the teacher. They feel good about sharing their
knowledge and you get to learn something. Its a win-win situation.

4. Dont ask, So, what do you do?

Some people do not like their jobs. Or maybe they dont want to talk about it. So,
instead of asking, What do you do for a living? ask something like, So, what
have you been doing these days? or So, what have you been up to?

One general question can lead to an opportunity to share something you have in
common. So, ask questions. Ask people about their families, their passions, their
ambitions or even their fears.

However, balance these questions with comments about yourself. Asking too many
questions may make people feel they are in an interview rather than in a

Practice makes perfect

Like anything, getting good at making small talk takes practice.

If you make small talk in your native language, you might become happier. If you
are making small talk using English, you will most definitely improve your
speaking and listening skills.

And thats the Health & Lifestyle report.

Im Anna Matteo.

How do you feel about small talk? Do you avoid it? Or do you enjoy it? Let us
know in the Comments Section.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Words in This Story

chitchat (chat) - n. friendly conversation about things that are not very important

random - adj. chosen, done, etc., without a particular plan or pattern

idle - adj. not having any real purpose or value

awkward - adj. not socially graceful or confident : uneasy or uncomfortable

empathy - n. the feeling that you understand and share another persons
experiences and emotions

boring - adj. dull and uninteresting : causing boredom

win-win - adj. always used before a noun : providing a good result for everyone

opportunity - n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done

passion - n. a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about

doing something

ambition - n. a particular goal or aim : something that a person hopes to do or

CONVERSATION in Money Changer


One day, in Central Kuta Money Changer, there are one guest from Rusia and her guide want to
change some money.
Mcs : Good Morning, welcome to Central Kuta Money Changer.
Gd&G : Good Morning
Mcs : How are we?
Gd&G : Fine, thank you.
Mcs : yes, may I help you?
Gd : She would like to change some money, Miss.
Mcs : Ohh.., okey, sit down, please.
Gd : Do you take any commissions or taxes if we change money here?
Mcs : No, we do not take any commission, Miss.
Gd : Well.,., Miss Sarahpova, how much money will you change?
G : I want to know what is the rate for USD first, Miss.
Mcs : The rate for USD is 8.900 rupiah per one dollar.
G : Ohhh.., only 8.900 rupiah per one dollar, could you make more higher, Miss?
Gd : Can you give her special rate, Miss?
Msc : I will give special rate if you change more than 1.000USD, I will give Rp. 9.000 per USD.
G : What do you think Miss Rosa? Is that not too much if I change 1.000 USD?
Gd : It might be alright Miss Sarahpova because we will go to Legian and Seminyak that are
the best places for shopping.
G : Really?!...,okey.., I will change 1500 USD. I have to buy some souvenirs, dresses, and
jewelry. That will be very interesting, Miss Rosa.
Msc : Deal Miss., you change 1.500 USD and you get special rate Rp. 9.000/USD.
G : Yes., deal, this are my money, 1.500 USD, you can count it first.
Msc : Okey., please, write your name and sign here, Miss.
G : Here, Miss.
Msc : Thank you, this is your receipt and this your money, you get Rp. 9000 x 1500 USD, so
you get Rp. 13.500.000, please count it again.
G : Wow.., it looks like a lot of money but in my country, it is just nothing.
Msc : Yes, Indonesian money have too many zeroes and some guests will confuse how to use
the zeroes.
Gd : You can compare, Miss Sarahpova, your money, USD have only two zeroes in the biggest
notes but we have five zeroes in rupiah.
G : Yeah.., definetly, I have to be careful and always count the zeroes when I want to buy
Gd : Exactly, Miss Sarahpova, this your first time in Bali, right? So, you have to be careful all
the time.
G : Of course.., ohh., both of these look similar?!
Msc : This the biggest note Rp. 100.000 looks more pink and this Rp. 10.000 looks more purple
besides, in Rp. 100.000, there are two men and Rp. 10.000 only one man.
Gd : Lets say that Rp. 10.000 is one USD. So, you are not confusing anymore.
G : Thats more easy for me, thank you very much for your help.
Gd : Thank you very much, Miss.
Msc : Youre welcome, thats my pleasure.
Pembicaraan kecil mungkin tampak bagus. (may small talk seem good). Tapi
setiap kali kita berbincang kecil dengan orang lain kita membangun hubungan dan
mungkin merasa lebih bahagia. ( but, each time we make small talk with others
Dari VOA Learning English, ini adalah laporan Health & Lifestyle.
Bicara kecil Basa basi. Ini adalah percakapan singkat yang kami lakukan di pesta,
sementara kami mengantre di toko, di acara keluarga atau bekerja.
Terkadang kita berbincang-bincang dengan orang-orang yang sudah kita kenal
tapi tidak baik. Seringkali kita harus berbincang-bincang dengan orang asing.
Banyak orang menemukan percakapan kecil ini tentang topik acak yang sulit.
Beberapa orang mengatakan mereka membencinya. Yang lain mengatakan bahwa
obrolan ringan hanyalah buang-buang waktu saja. Mereka bahkan mungkin
menyebutnya obrolan menganggur atau obrolan kosong, yang berarti tidak
melakukan apa-apa. Mereka menganggap pembicaraan kecil tidak penting.
Namun, obrolan kecil itu penting.
Pertukaran ini bisa membuka pintu yang bisa menghasilkan percakapan yang
lebih besar dan lebih bermakna. Saat pertama kali bertemu seseorang atau
berbicara dengan seseorang yang tidak Anda kenal dengan baik, akan sangat aneh
jika memulai percakapan tentang topik yang sangat dalam seperti perang, politik
atau makna hidup.
Pembicaraan kecil juga memberi Anda kesempatan untuk memutuskan apakah
Anda ingin mengetahui orang itu lebih baik - atau tidak. Katakanlah Anda
membuat obrolan ringan dengan seseorang di sebuah pesta. Tapi mereka hanya
ingin berbicara tentang kucing. Anda mungkin tidak ingin membangun
persahabatan dengan mereka kecuali jika Anda benar-benar menyukai kucing.
Chitchat juga bisa meningkatkan rasa pengertian, atau empati Anda, terhadap
orang yang Anda kenal tapi tidak sehat. Mengobrol dengan seorang rekan tentang
anak mereka dapat membantu Anda untuk lebih memahami kehidupan mereka di
luar kantor. Ini bisa membantu membangun hubungan kerja yang sehat.
Ceramah kecil bahkan bisa membantu komunitas kita yang lebih besar -
hubungan kita dengan tetangga dan kolega. Bertukar resep dengan tetangga di
gedung apartemen Anda mungkin membuat suara di lantai atas lebih mudah
untuk ditinggali.
Dan obrolan ringan bisa membuat kita lebih bahagia!
Pada tahun 2011, sebagian besar penumpang di kota Chicago mengatakan bahwa
mereka akan menikmati "mobil sepi" di mana mereka duduk sendirian dan tidak
berbicara dengan siapa pun.
Periset di University of Chicago kemudian meminta beberapa peserta dalam
sebuah penelitian untuk berbicara dengan orang-orang saat mudik untuk bekerja
di kereta api. Mereka menemukan bahwa mereka yang membuat obrolan ringan
dengan orang asing lebih bahagia daripada mereka yang duduk sendirian.

Kebanyakan orang tidak berbicara dengan orang asing saat bepergian di kereta
bawah tanah.
Pada tahun 2013, para periset dari University of Essex di Inggris meminta
beberapa orang untuk melakukan obrolan ringan dalam studi serupa. Mereka
menemukan orang-orang yang berbicara sebentar dengan kasir di kedai kopi
merasa lebih bahagia daripada mereka yang baru saja masuk, memesan dan
Namun, beberapa orang tidak pandai bicara kecil. Membuat obrolan ringan tidak
harus canggung atau membosankan. Berikut adalah beberapa tips untuk
meningkatkan kemampuan bicara kecil Anda.
Tip untuk membuat obrolan ringan
1. Minta beberapa pembuka percakapan siap.
Jika Anda telah melihat film yang benar-benar bagus atau pernah membaca buku
yang bagus, Anda bisa membicarakannya. Anda bisa membicarakan sesuatu yang
baru saja Anda pelajari.
Bila Anda berbagi pengalaman yang sama dengan seseorang, mudah untuk
memulai percakapan. Anda hanya memperhatikan dan mengomentari apa yang
terjadi di sekitar Anda. Misalnya, jika Anda berada di sebuah pesta dan sebuah
lagu datang pada keinginan Anda atau yang mengingatkan Anda akan sesuatu,
Anda dapat membicarakannya.
2. Ajukan pertanyaan terbuka.
Jenis pertanyaan ini membutuhkan lebih banyak pemikiran dan lebih dari sekedar
jawaban satu kata sederhana. Jika Anda mengajukan pertanyaan yang
memerlukan lebih banyak rincian untuk dijawab, percakapan akan berlangsung
lebih lama.
Misalnya, jika Anda berada di pesta kolam renang musim panas, jangan bertanya
kepada orang apakah mereka menyukai musim panas. Sebagai gantinya, tanyakan
kepada mereka apa yang mereka suka atau tidak suka tentang musim panas. Jadi,
alih-alih mendapatkan jawaban satu kata, Anda mungkin memiliki kesempatan
untuk berbagi dalam memori.
3. Menjadi mahasiswa.
Tidak ada yang tahu segalanya. Jadi, saat seseorang menjawab salah satu
pertanyaan terbuka Anda, mereka mengemukakan sesuatu yang tidak Anda
ketahui sama sekali. Jadi, beritahu mereka!
Hal ini memungkinkan orang lain menjadi guru. Mereka merasa senang berbagi
pengetahuan dan Anda bisa belajar sesuatu. Ini adalah situasi win-win.
4. Jangan bertanya, "Jadi, apa yang Anda lakukan?"
Beberapa orang tidak menyukai pekerjaan mereka. Atau mungkin mereka tidak
mau membicarakannya. Jadi, alih-alih bertanya, "Apa yang Anda lakukan untuk
mencari nafkah?" Tanya sesuatu seperti, "Jadi, apa yang telah Anda lakukan akhir-
akhir ini?" Atau "Jadi, apa yang telah Anda lakukan?"
Satu pertanyaan umum dapat menyebabkan kesempatan untuk berbagi sesuatu
yang sama dengan Anda. Jadi, ajukan pertanyaan. Tanyakan kepada orang-orang
tentang keluarga mereka, hasrat mereka, ambisi mereka atau bahkan ketakutan
Namun, sempurnakan pertanyaan ini dengan komentar tentang diri Anda.
Mengajukan terlalu banyak pertanyaan mungkin membuat orang merasa berada
dalam sebuah wawancara daripada dalam percakapan.
Latihan membuat sempurna
Seperti apa pun, bersikap baik dalam membuat obrolan ringan membutuhkan
Jika Anda berbicara kecil dalam bahasa ibu Anda, Anda mungkin menjadi lebih
bahagia. Jika Anda membuat obrolan ringan menggunakan bahasa Inggris, Anda
pasti akan memperbaiki kemampuan berbicara dan mendengar Anda.
Dan itulah laporan Health & Lifestyle.
Saya Anna Matteo.
Bagaimana perasaan Anda tentang obrolan ringan? Apakah kamu menghindarinya
Atau apakah kamu menikmatinya? Marilah kita tahu i