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I’ll return to climate change soon.

However, today, I ran across an encouraging tweet about conversations, based on a study from 2018:

For those who cannot read the text in the tweet, the abstract to The Liking Gap in Conversations: Do People Like Us More Than We Think? reads as follows (emphases mine):

Having conversations with new people is an important and rewarding part of social life. Yet conversations can also be intimidating and anxiety provoking, and this makes people wonder and worry about what their conversation partners really think of them. Are people accurate in their estimates? We found that following interactions, people systematically underestimated how much their conversation partners liked them and enjoyed their company, an illusion we call the liking gap. We observed the liking gap as strangers got acquainted in the laboratory, as first-year college students got to know their dorm mates, and as formerly unacquainted members of the general public got to know each other during a personal development workshop. The liking gap persisted in conversations of varying lengths and even lasted for several months, as college dorm mates developed new relationships. Our studies suggest that after people have conversations, they are liked more than they know.

The full study is available here.

Studies were conducted among students at Yale University and in the United Kingdom.

Both sets of participants, regardless of country, judged themselves much harsher than their conversational partners, thereby manifesting the liking gap.

People were nervous, shy, self-critical and more, which caused them to perceive a liking gap.

However, their partners in conversation observed them differently — and much more positively — according to visible signals such as smiles, gestures and so on.

The most interesting part was the dorm study which evaluated students living together throughout an academic year. Interestingly, the liking gap persisted from September through February, disappearing completely only when the academic year ended the following May!

So, fear not: conversation is one of the most satisfying things we can experience in life. People are far less judgemental than we think.

Get talking — and enjoy!

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