I survived the Blizzard of ‘78.
The Great Blizzard occurred January 25-27, 1978 across the Midwest and has been cited as the worst blizzard in US history: 40 inches of snow, 100 mph winds, and -60F wind-chill temperatures.
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and every conversation opened with a comment about the weather: it’s too hot, too cold, too humid, too windy, or miraculously perfect. Comments about the weather provided instant conversation starters with friends and strangers alike.
Then I moved to San Jose, CA for my first job. I was astounded by the consistently gorgeous climate.
And because I grew up talking about the weather, I marveled about the radiant blue skies on a daily basis to my new colleagues and everyone else I met.
After a few weeks, someone pulled me aside and said, “Ann, you don’t need to keep mentioning the weather. It’s like this all the time.”
So I stopped talking about the weather… but not for long. I noticed how much I missed that effortless rapport with people. So I quickly reinstated my weather commentary.
Weather is not only a conversation starter; it’s our commonality. Whether we grumble about the snow, grouse about the humidity, or gush about the beauty, we are experiencing the weather together. And this serves as a bridge to connect us.
Why should we care? Because those commonalities and that connection engender trust.
In fact, Stanford research reveals that commonalities not only foster trust, they strengthen empathy among strangers.
So if your weather is frosty, fair, or fabulous, intentionally mention it and you’ll immediately:
- Emphasize your commonality
- Identify your shared experience, and
- Acknowledge your instant connection
In a world of strangers, we need more bridges and fewer islands.