Friday, October 23, 2009

small talk

If you had asked me five years ago I would have told you that I sucked at small talk.

What was I thinking?

In order to be good at socializing you have to be able to sustain a conversation about the weather, last night's TV lineup, or the sports team currently in finals. Heck, I can talk up a storm on those topics and more.

It is funny to me now that I perceived that I was terrible at something I actually navigate with ease. For some reason I tend to have odd things going around in my brain all the time that make for great conversation. Like being on a detox. Or giving up caffeine. Or how Columbus Day isn't celebrated by Italians in Michigan. Or that I hope the weather is nice for the race I'm running on Sunday.

Ever since moving my office from the 9th floor to the 4th floor I've actually gotten completely back into my small talk stride. At the mighty bird I chatted up everyone I even remotely knew all the time. Elevator, walking the hall, pouring coffee. But when I came to S&S for some reason I stopped being social. Until now. If you happen to catch me in the kitchen getting some tea or water - watch out! I'll be throwing witty banter all over the place.

That being said it is a little trickier moving from the small talk to a real sustainable conversation. I've always been a little frustrated when I end up relying on asking about work. The classic "So what do you do?".

Ugh, so boring.

Then yesterday I read something that really made sense. Instead of asking about someones job, instead ask what they are passionate about. (Can't remember where I read this though.)


So lo and behold last night Jules and I went to an urban escapes mixer. A happy hour for people to chat with people they had met on previous trips with the company. That with happy hour specials and raffle prizes.

We bumped into four people who had gone on our tubing and wine tasting trip and talked to them for a good two hours or so. Eventually it had to happen...the conversation slowed...and I asked one girl what she did for a living.

As she responded in a lackluster manner I remembered what I had read earlier in the day. And my next question was "So is what you do what you are passionate about?"

Wow. What a reaction! She perked right up and said "hell no" then went on about what she in fact does care about and what she wants to do. Conversation 110% revived. Another person in the dialogue actually stopped, looked at me in amazement and said "wow, that was a really great question." To which I said "I know, right? It really works!"

Thus now I will add this to the stable of handy convo topics. And of course am sharing the secret with all of you. Because it is the gift that keeps on giving!

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