Social isolation, not loneliness, is linked with earlier death








  • robust – strong, full and rich
  • untangle – to make a complicated subject or problem clear and able to be understood
  • mortal – causing or having caused death
  • ample – plentiful

WORD FORMATION: Change the word in CAPITALS to fill in the blanks.


1.(LONELY) ………. is bad for our health, according to a robust body of research. And isolation is known to 2. (SHORT) ….. lives—but experts were not sure if the real culprit was the pain and stress of loneliness, as opposed to a lack of social 3. (CONNECT) …………. . Now psychologists have untangled the two factors and discovered that even superficial contact with other people may improve our health.

(…) Greater social isolation, however, came with an increased 4. (INCIDENT) ……… of death: 21.9 percent of people ranked as highly isolated died compared with 12.3 percent of less isolated people. After taking into account health and other demographic factors, this 5. (DIFFER) …….. amounted to a 1.26-fold increase in 6. (MORTAL) ………. associated with high social isolation.

(…) Although the results hint that city living or group homes may be 7. (BENEFIT) ……., Steptoe says they do not negate the downside of loneliness.


Key: 1. loneliness; 2. shorten; 3. connectedness; 4. incidence; 5. difference; 6. mortality;
7. beneficial

Practice Makes Perfect

Put the verbs in brackets into either the gerund (-ing) or the infinitive (with ‘to’); to check your answers, go to: https://www.inc.com/raj-jana/3-questions-to-skip-small-talk-build-real-connections.html


3 Questions to Skip Small Talk and Build Real Connections

One of the best ways 1. (build) …….. real connections is 2. (have) …… authentic conversations. And yet, most people begin a conversation with the same basic questions, “How are you?” or “What do you do?”.

These questions cause your mind 3. (turn) …..flat and respond with some predisposed script that elicits no emotion, or ultimately, any connection. Simply put, it’s the opposite of how business relationships are created. 

When I started my podcast interviewing guests, I found the fastest way 4. (get) …… a conversation moving, in a direction everyone enjoyed, was 5. (skip) ……… these small talk questions and instead focus the conversation around experiences and emotions. It is all about  6. (get) …….. people out of their heads and into their emotions. 

(…) I have found that if you want to be great at 7. (connect) ……., you must bring curiosity into your conversations. Instead of 8. (ask) ……. someone what they do, ask them what brings them joy. When you ask someone what their role is, it becomes an egocentric question where the person begins 9. (wonder) ……… if their career experience, job title, or accolades are enough to stand out. (…) 

This more curious question is all about 10. (determine) ……… someone’s passion. While most people don’t often have an immediate answer, it gets them 11. (think) ……. . The more people can become thoughtful about their answer, the more grateful the environment of the conversation becomes. A discussion solely focused on what lights someone up is far more connecting than asking someone 12. (rattle) ….. .. off their resume. (…)

13. (place) ……… the spotlight on the other person feeds them with energy and, in turn, leads to something great.


ANSWERS: 1. to build; 2. to have; 3. to turn; 4. to get; 5. to skip; 6. getting; 7. connecting; 8. asking; 9. to wonder; 10. determining; 11. thinking; 12. to rattle; 132. placing 





  • Do you consider yourself good at small talk and making conversation?
  • When was the last time you had a fascinating conversation?
  • “Conversation is an exercise of the mind; gossip is merely an exercise of the tongue.” Would you agree?
  • Have you ever regretted having overheard a conversation?
  • Who would you find it difficult to strike up a conversation with?
  • What do you make of this Chinese proverb: “A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books.”



Explore it more to create your own teaching-learning experience!


Small talk can have big benefits

Casual conversations can sometimes lead us to moments of real connection. News director and radio host Kyle Kellams explains how.