The ‘Happy To Talk’ Movement

Courtney Steele Advice

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It’s a miserable Tuesday morning; the wind is howling, the rain battering down and as you and your fellow commuters finally step off the platform and onto the crowded 8.23 train into town… the last thing you want to do is strike up a conversation with a stranger. You look around and everyone around you (headphones on, kindles raised) seemingly feels the same.

Well, what if, we lived in a society where this wasn’t the norm? If instead of avoiding eye contact as we boarded the bus, we embraced it?

As a society, we are finally becoming more open and understanding of mental health issues and yet, so many of us are unwilling to just simply talk to each other. This is where the idea of ‘happy to talk’ was born.

Londoner, Chris Zair, was caught unaware one morning when a fellow traveler turned to him and started a conversation whilst on his way to visit family. The man turned out to be full of interesting stories of his time living in London decades ago, and the chance encounter left Chris with a smile on his face.

Chris says; “It left me with a spring in my step that day, but also a lasting determination to try and make what was, for me, a rare occasion, slightly less uncommon. If it turns out we’re still too grumpy, then so be it, it’s worth a shot […] For me it’s not about mental health, it’s about social health; through short, friendly conversations we can become better, happier members of our society, a society that benefits in return.”

Conversations with those around us can be so beneficial not just socially but also in our careers. We recently published a blog based on networking, but what if we are missing out on opportunities that are right in front of us?

A recent Ted Talk from Tina Seelig, a professor in Stanford University’s Management Science and Engineering faculty, focused on the topic and concept of luck, chance and fortune. She says; luck is like the wind; it is blowing around us all the time, but it is up to us to build the sail in order to catch it.

On this basis, whilst taking her seat on a plane, she decided not to take out her laptop, but instead to take a small risk and start a conversation with the man sitting next to her. After a fascinating conversation, they exchanged details and fast-forward two years through further encounters and meet-ups with this same man; the publisher he worked for, published Tina’s first book. That book has now sold well over a million copies.

We live in a society where we no longer know our neighbours or the people delivering our post every day, we are becoming gradually more and more insular. Yet, we could be missing out on so much; whether it is a career opportunity, a contact or just an interesting story that makes us smile.

So, next time you board the 8.23 train on that soggy Tuesday morning, take a look around you and chat to somebody, it might just make your day. Or, if you catch some luck like Tina, it could change your entire life.

If you would like to know more about ‘happy to talk’ head to their website;