Tag: Communication

Why You Should Talk To Strangers

Think you’d feel uncomfortable if you had to talk to a random stranger on the train or in the street?

Think again. New research from the University of Chicago shows that it’s a near-painless way to have a happier day.

In a series of clever experiments, researchers Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder found that people assume that talking to strangers on their commute will make for a terribly clumsy encounter — but they end up having the opposite experience.

The Science of Us blog has the write-up of the first experiment, which involved train commuters near Chicago:

Some (commuters) were instructed to have a conversation with whoever sat next to them, some were told to keep to themselves and enjoy their solitude, and some were told to do whatever they normally do. Afterwards, they mailed in surveys describing their experience — both how much they enjoyed the ride and how productive they felt during it. Of the three groups, those in the conversation condition reported the most positive train ride, and those in the solitude condition reported the most negative. Among those who talked, the longer the conversation, the better the ride.

Later experiments further pressed the point.

In the second one, Eply and Schroeder asked commuters to imagine taking part in the first experiment. The commuters said they thought it would be weird to talk to a stranger on the train.

Then, in another experiment, the researchers asked train and bus riders to think about talking with a stranger.

“In general, they expected it to be pretty pleasant,” Science of Us continues. “But when asked about the process of initiating a conversation, they rated the difficulty of breaking the ice at a four on a scale of zero to six, and they guessed that fewer than half of their targets would want to talk back.”

That’s the thing: We think that talking to a stranger will end in catastrophic embarrassment, but it doesn’t in reality. The first experiment is a case in point, since nobody got rejected when they tried to talk to someone they don’t know.

That leaves us with a dilemma.

Why don’t we start conversations, especially in places like New York, where everybody keeps their distance from one another even as they’re crammed shoulder to shoulder?

Psychologists call it “pluralistic ignorance.” As in, everybody would like to talk, but no one thinks anyone wants to talk.

The dread associated with starting a convo defuses would-be connections. But as these experiments evidence, there’s nothing to fear. Epley tells Science of Us that starting a conversation is “like a speed bump at the top of a hill.” All you need to do is compliment their shoes, mention the weather, ask about their day — and then you’re off.

Need further motivation? Consider how jobs, dates, and good ideas come with forging new relationships.

“Human beings are social animals,” Epley and Schroeder conclude. “Those who misunderstand the consequences of social interactions may not, in at least some contexts, be social enough for their own well-being.”

That reminds us of the news about polar bears.

Did you hear about how much they weigh?

Enough to break the ice.


*Article originally published on News Republic.

Top 8 Reasons The Toilet Seat Should Stay Down!

1) “Because I said so” – It’s just that simple.

2) It’s the courteous thing to do – Men, you already know we need the seat down so unless you wanna piss us off I suggest being courteous by leaving the toilet seat down at all times.

3) It’s Free – It doesn’t cost you anything to put the toilet seat down so just do it. Free always works!

4) It’s much easier for a man to pee with the seat down than it is for a woman to pee with the seat up – This is a fact. A scientific fact.

5) It keeps us from seeing your spilled urine on the back of the seat – A yellow stained toilet seat is never what women want to see when they walk into the bathroom. It’s just plain gross!

6) It means I don’t have to touch the dirty toilet seat – Seeing the yellow pee stains on the back of the toilet seat is one thing, but touching it is another. I don’t have to touch the toilet seat after I use it, so I shouldn’t have to after he does either.

7) It makes the bathroom look better overall – We spend so much more time in there than men do so it’s good to be in a room that’s pleasant to look at while we’re getting ready in the morning.

8) That’s the way you found it – Just like anywhere else, it’s always best to leave things the way you found them. When in doubt put it DOWN!


Single Black Woman: Not Desperate But Definitely Picky

This past weekend I attended a party where I saw a lot of my old classmates from grade school. It was a good catching up with them since I hadn’t seen most of them since Kindergarten, which for me was over two decades ago. And even though we were all the same age most of my old classmates were married or had children or both, which led them to ask me why I was still unmarried with no children. I gave them the response that I always give: “I just haven’t found Mr. Right yet.” One of my more outspoken classmates (who is married with 2 kids of his own) looked me up & down and quickly told me that my problem was probably that I was “too picky for my own good”. But how can anyone be too picky when it comes to marriage?


The conversation with my classmate got me to thinking – am I too picky? Maybe I just don’t recognize it. Could I be unwilling to see that the things I desire in a husband are not reasonable after all? Maybe I need to re-evaluate my needs & just stick with the things that are deal breakers. Should I reconsider what’s important to me & pursue a relationship with someone who is a good man even though they don’t have everything that I want or need in a relationship? Older women always advise me to focus on the important qualities in a man like good character, honesty, open communication, trust & whether or not he’ll be a good father to our children but I want to know when does attraction and chemistry come into play? When do romance and a sense of humor come into play? I know that those qualities aren’t what keep a marriage together but they do account for a lot in a relationship, especially during the rough times. If I have to deal with someone that I’m not attracted to (intellectually, spiritually or emotionally) then it makes dealing with that person a lot more difficult. Don’t get me wrong – integrity, trust and good character are all great things to have but if there’s no attraction then what good does it do?


Yes, I have requirements of certain characteristics that I am looking for in a mate. Unfortunately, I have yet to find all of these characteristics in one man but that’s the real reason for me being single. A lot of us women were told to have a list of qualities that we would like in a mate and to be very specific with this list. I wrote my list out and ended up with about 20 qualities that I’d like in a husband. Some people have told me that this list is too long but I contend that while not all of these qualities are mandatory, they are what I truly desire in a mate and are all important to me. Of course, it is still up to me to exercise good judgment with which qualities are most important to me.

You’re probably wondering what’s on my list. I won’t write out everything but some of the more important qualities include a Christian man who will be faithful, has a sense of humor, thoughtful and active in his community (or at least productive in society outside of work). I honestly don’t think that these things are too much to ask for. There are other qualities on my list such as physical features and the like, but those are mostly preferences (i.e. – complexion, height, build, etc). I was talking to an acquaintance one day (a recently married man in his 40’s) about my “list” and he told me that most of the things I’m looking for are realistic, but there were a few qualities that he deemed unrealistic. He reasoned that in this day in age, and with the age range of men I’m interested in (ages 35-45) it would be very difficult for me to find exactly what I want so I should remove certain qualities from my list. I didn’t want to get into it with him but I took what he said with a grain of salt (basically ignored him completely). The things that I want in a husband may seem unreasonable to someone else but to me they are not. Besides, how can someone else tell me what’s important to me?

A lot of my male friends tell me to get rid of my list, but the funny thing is that they all have their own list. Sure, it may not be written out like mine but it’s all in their head. Every man knows exactly what he wants in a woman and won’t settle until he gets what he’s looking for (which is part of the reason why men stay single for so long). No one ever complains that a man is being picky so why I should be concerned with that label?


I always hear that men are allowed to be picky because they have more options. Since women are starting to make more money & become more accomplished than their male counterparts there are fewer successful men to choose from. Therefore women can’t afford to be as picky as men. Although there is some truth to that, I don’t believe that I need to have a shorter list just to get a husband. Everything that I want in a man I have to offer. I want a man who is a Christian, I am a Christian. I want a man with an education, I have a college degree. And the list goes on & on. I am not a millionaire; therefore I wouldn’t expect to be with a millionaire (although it would be nice, Lol!). My point is this: I would never ask for something that I don’t have to offer myself.


Sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on my future husband because I’m holding on to a list that may or may not be realistic. I also wonder if my list should be shortened or maybe even retired.  Maybe I am too picky for my own good. But I am content to remain single until most of the items on my list can be checked off.

Besides, with so many divorces in this country people just don’t seem to be picky enough.