So I’m guilty of jumping straight into deep and meaningfuls, like those with total strangers I meet at supermarkets.
Person mid 40’s staring at yogurt: Hi
Me: I really like that brand, it’s super delicious … what are your core life values?
Ok, while not that extreme (thank god) – with any new person I’d meet at parties, gatherings etc, I’d suss them out first to make sure they like peanut butter and banana, and then jump straight into discussing wellbeing, philosophical quotes, and anything deep.
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t like small talk. It didn’t feel like we were connecting, and that talking about riveting topics like the hormonal weather wasted both their time and mine.
But of course, for many of you reading you might be thinking “… I have no idea what you’re talking about Jo – give me all the ‘the morning was so cold and now it’s so sunny, what’s up with that?’ conversations”.
So what I picked up from ‘How to be awesome at your job’ ep 486 (more days than I’ve been alive) is:
Small talk leads to big talk
Start small. Not everyone will warm up immediately – and what I perceive at friendliness is their version of privacy space invasion.
To get to the big talk, people first require time and plenty of small talk to trust, and then they will naturally open up.
So here’s a few open ended conversation starters:
– “What’s keeping you occupied in life these days?”
– “What do you do/study?”
– “Any new things you’ve learnt recently?”
– “Any skills you’ve picked up recently (or want to)?”
I’ve learnt to never underestimate small talk. To be honest it’s quite fun, and you can pick up nuances about them even when starting with the weather:
“It was quite cold this morning!”
“I agree, had to put on 5 layers”
“Do you not like the cold?”
“Only when skiing”
“Oh you like to ski?”