You might not know their name or know them well, but acquaintances are people you recognise and interact with occasionally. Image Credit: Pexels/RDNE Stock Project

Don’t discount the small talk you make with random people through the day – it might just be what’s helping you stay happy and positive.

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how our ‘cordial’ relations with acquaintances can bring us greater happiness.

Throughout your day, you might meet and socialise with different people. You’d likely discuss the traffic with a delivery driver who dropped off your lunch, strike up a conversation about fitness with someone at the gym, or share why you love a certain brand of produce with a like-minded grocery cashier. All those small moments matter more than you think.

You might not know their name or know them well, but acquaintances are people you recognise and interact with occasionally. For decades, sociologists have been investigating the impact of such people on our lives – they’re called ‘weak ties’ since we don’t know them well, but they are a regular part of our connection with society.

A growing body of evidence shows that those interactions matter more than we thought. An August 2020 study in UK-based The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, found that it’s most significant for the elderly. Older adults with more weak ties are likely to have more positive emotions, less likely to be depressed, and more likely to form new connections in the future. It’s also shown to help prevent cognitive decline in ageing adults.

It's a similar case with young people, too. A July 2014 study published in the journal Personal and Social Psychology Bulletin found that college students felt happier, less lonely and felt like they belonged more on days where they interacted more frequently with weak ties.

The largest ever experimental study on weak ties was conducted by researchers from US-based universities Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, and was published in September 2022 in the journal Science. The study used LinkedIn’s ‘people you may know’ algorithm to assess the job mobility of 20 million people around the world. Researchers found that – contrary to popular belief – weaker social connections on job sites had a more positive effect on advancing people’s careers than strong connections.

So, keep greeting and socialising with people you meet during the day – it’s good for you!

Do you make an effort to socialise with your acquaintances? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at