Each day, there are plenty of opportunities to practice your Microstep and make a personal connection with someone you may normally take for granted. Just think of all the people you see: the barista at the local coffee shop, the security guard at work, or the crossing-guard at school drop off. These moments of connection take little to no effort to spark, yet they have a great impact on our emotional well-being.
“The sociologist Mark Granovetter calls these low-stakes relationships ‘weak ties,’” Allie Volpe writes in the New York Times. “[They] can have a positive impact on our well-being by helping us feel more connected to other social groups… and empower us to be more empathetic. We’re likely to feel less lonely, too.”
These low-stakes relationships can also improve our sense of happiness, according to a University of British Columbia study. And you don’t need to have a long conversation with these folks to reap the benefits. Micro-interactions, like a smile or a friendly “good morning” nod in the elevator, can hold more power than you might think. These small gestures only take a second, and you’ll both appreciate the quick moment of connection.
In addition to interacting with people you don’t really “know,” consider practicing your Microstep at work, too. Finding common ground with someone you typically see only in a professional setting can allow you to connect in a different capacity, and research suggests it can even help you develop a better working relationship with them. If you think you don’t have much in common with your colleagues at work, try recommending a new book, or a movie you saw recently. That one shared interest can lead to more conversations going forward, and might even extend to friendships with others around the office.
When you commit to practicing your Microstep each day, you’ll be surprised to see how quickly you — and those you interact with — experience its benefits.
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