Unexpected Benefits of Meeting New People

Hanging out with your friends is easy, comfortable, and is usually a pretty pleasant experience. But, what if you could live a longer, happier, and more productive life by making a slight change to the way you socialize with others? In this post, you’ll discover four unexpected benefits of meeting new people, as well as where and how to make those experiences happen without coming off as a total weirdo.

Chris working on his storytelling skills
Photo by Koy Collins

1. Be in a more permanent state of happiness.

One of the first unexpected benefits of meeting new people is that you’ll likely find yourself in a better mood.

When my husband Chris and I used to Airbnb in Vancouver, we loved it. Sure, we had our rent paid for, but we didn’t do it for the money. We genuinely loved sharing our space with strangers and meeting new people. 

Soon after becoming hosts, we discovered why we liked it so much. Guests who stayed with us were almost always in a good mood, which rubbed off on us. We could be helpful (by sharing tips about our hometown) and learn new things about new cultures, peoples’ careers, and ideas.

It wasn’t always 100% positive (especially when a mother and her daughter told us they had ruined our Vitamix by sticking a metal spoon inside while it was on), but it was never a dull moment.

Even though talking to a stranger can be awkward or daunting, studies show that engaging in this sort of behavior leads to more enjoyment and connectedness than you might think. So, if you find yourself a little depressed or lonely, meeting someone new could be the perfect remedy.

A guy watches the sunrise

2. Get a fresh perspective.

You and your friends have a lot in common. And that’s great. But just like someone who’s never left their small hometown, sticking to the same group of friends in familiar environments can make you narrow-minded and cliquey.

When you talk to people outside of your regular friend group or family, you might be pleasantly surprised with what opinions and points of view they have. And, because you usually don’t know how they’ll react or what they’ll say (unlike your friends or family members), you’re naturally more open to listening to what they have to say.

You never know; you might get an idea for a new direction to take your business or insight on where to travel to next.

Emma chatting during a Second Degree dinner party

2. Cultivate curiosity.

If you’ve ever met a kid, you know how curious they are. On average, they ask 107 questions an hour! But at a certain point in our lives, our sense of curiosity plateaus and we become more knowledgeable and tend to seek the familiar instead of new experiences. And while we don’t completely lose our sense of curiosity, it gets suppressed.

Luckily, meeting new people can help us get out of our rut. Here are three quick reasons why you should care about bringing that curiosity back:

  1. Being curious is relevant to memory function and can keep us young. 
  2. Being curious helps us better remember new information. So, the more curious we are, the more likely we’ll learn something new and remember it.
  3. Curiosity can help build stronger relationships. Research shows that we get a greater feeling of intimacy and build a better foundation for relationships when we ask questions that dig a little deeper than small talk.

Since we usually don’t know much (or anything) about the new people we meet, we have to ask more questions, be better listeners, and engage in meaningful conversations (read this post on how to do so).

So while meeting new people won’t get rid of your grey hairs, it will trigger your desire to be more curious.

Two pals cheersing on the couch
Our friend Clyde and Chris became good buds after meeting each other through volleyball.

4. Find a good friend.

Another benefit of meeting new people may seem obvious, but it’s a little deeper than meets the eye. There’s a lot of pressure for a Tinder date or a speed dating event to end in a certain way. Clearly, you’re both there for the same reason. Sometimes, these expectations can make you extra nervous or act unnaturally. Or, add unwanted stress that makes you want to avoid these types of meetups altogether.

When meeting new people in an environment where there’s no pressure to leave with their contact info or a romantic gesture, you can feel more at ease and act like yourself. And if you do end up finding someone you click with (whether it’s romantically or not), you’re likely to know the person’s true personality, not someone who put on a show to be your date.

In Morocco, I signed up for a weekend indigo-dying retreat with a bunch of strangers at least a decade or two older than me, which ended up being wildly fun.

No Pain, No Gain.

I’d be lying if I said meeting new people was easy and comfortable, and it’s not. Meeting new people requires effort, discomfort, and some potentially awkward and cringe-worthy conversations that you wish you could erase from your memory. But, hopefully, this post has proven that pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone to meet new people makes you a happier and healthier person, so why not give it a go?  

Where to Meet New People

Here’s a list of ideas of where and how you could potentially be meeting new people:

  • Team Sports
    • Look up recreational leagues in your neighborhood, look at bulletin boards at your community centers, and ask around.
  • Supper Clubs or Dinner Parties
    • Start hosting your own and ask friends to invite people you don’t know. Read this guide on how to host a dinner party if you’ve never hosted one before.
    • Or, try joining a supper club or long table dinner in your city.
    • If you’re in Cape Town, check out our blind taste test series.
  • Meetups
    • Try websites like Meetup, Facebook, and Eventbrite to find events that are happening around you. Try a hiking group or find others that share your interest in video games or salsa dancing.
  • Workshops and Retreat.
  • Find a language buddy.
    • I met a friend from Spain in Cape Town by responding to her Facebook post on the local ex-pat community page looking to practice her English.

Reap the Benefits of Meeting New People

Hopefully this post convinced you to push yourself to get outside your comfort zone, go to a meetup or event you normally never would have joined, or strike up a conversation with a stranger at a coffee shop.

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dinner party conversation on a patio

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