Some people find small talk to be a complete waste of time. After all, there's work to be done. But new research suggests that you should make time for a little morning conversation with strangers, since it could just lift your mood. 

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia found that those who talked to service providers -- like a barista or a package deliverer -- as if they were an acquaintance were left happier by those interactions.

“Every day we have opportunities to transform potentially impersonal, instrumental exchanges into genuine social interactions, and the happiness literature suggests that we may reap benefits by doing so,” the psychologists wrote.

Specifically, they viewed their results in the context of efficiency, noting that those who brushed off conversation were trying to make the most of their time. Those who slowed it down, conversed and smiled in turn had better moods --  4.22 versus 3.60 -- on a 1 to 5 scale.  

On a similar note, when you take the time to do more than just go through the motions, you might actually feel your work day pass by faster.

Inc. contributor Jessica Stillman wrote a fascinating post that delved into neuroscience to help explain and replicate that feeling of having more time (you know, like when you were a kid at summer camp and the days felt endless).

The gist is that the more details we feed our brains, the longer the moment seems to last. On the other hand, when days aren’t filled with new information and the brain goes un-stimulated, time feels like it drags on.  

Talking with new people is a good way make sure we don’t experience too many mundane moments. “Unlike objects, people are complex and take more effort to ‘process’ and understand. Meeting new people, then, is a good workout for our brains,” Stillman said.  

Published on: Oct 31, 2013