How to Eliminate Small Talk Questions Forever, Part 2

How to Eliminate Small Talk Questions Forever, Part 2

How to eliminate small talk, part 2

In my last article, we discussed how to eliminate Small Talk Questions by using Declaratory Statements.  We’re not done yet because there’s more than one way to eliminate Small Talk Questions, and I love to give you options rather than rules.

START A CONVERSATION IN THE MIDDLE

Our brains work in a funny way.  When we meet new people, we tend to start by exchanging the most basic information.  First we exchange names, then we exchange professions, then we exchange hometowns, etc., etc., etc.  Police call that “pedigree information.

Pedigree information is boring.  I’d rather know your opinions, ideas and plans than your present address.

Why do people feel the need to start conversations with pedigree information?  Simply, it’s what they were taught.  It’s what everybody else does.

But there is a better way!  

Some of the greatest conversations start in the middle — with substance — and then work backwards to the basic pedigree stuff.  For example, I was at a housewarming party where I overheard a woman talking about Philadelphia.  When she wasn’t occupied, we had a classic start-in-the-middle conversation:

Me:  Philly is a totally underrated city.

Her:  What do you know about Philadelphia?

Me:  I used to drive down there with my buddies every few months for cheese steaks.

Her:  Pat’s or Geno’s?  (Referring to two famous rival cheese steak stands.)

Me:  Neither, both of them are tourist traps.  I love one that’s a bit more out of the way, called Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies.  

Her:  You’re not going to believe it, but my father started the restaurant right across the street.

Me:  Your dad started Chubby’s?

Her:  Yes!  I’ve got to tell my dad that you know Chubby’s.

We had a great conversation about Philly and cheese steaks and the history of her family’s restaurant.  Never did we feel compelled to ask each other pedigree information like where we went to school and things like that.  In fact, I never found out her name!  (I didn’t feel the need to…I’m married.)

Do you see how a great conversation can be had by taking a small piece of information — that a person is from Philadelphia — and then using that to launch into a real, in-depth conversation?

You can do it, too.  Here’s how….

ASK QUESTIONS OF SUBSTANCE

Instead of writing something vague and useless about substantive questions — because there are an infinite number of them — let me give you some examples:

You’re standing next to a potential partner at an art exhibit…

  • BAD:  Do you like this museum?
  • GOOD:  What inspires you about this painting? 

You meet a potential partner who is wearing a Las Vegas t-shirt…

  • BAD:  Do you like to travel?
  • GOOD:  I see from your t-shirt that you went to Vegas.  What was your favorite show?

You’re at a concert…

  • BAD:  Are you a fan of the band?
  • GOOD:  What was your favorite song in the set list?
You’re at a cafe…
  • BAD:  Do you come here a lot?  (Creepy, too!)
  • GOOD:  I’ve never been here.  Any recommendations?

Now it’s time to get out your Action Plan.  Here’s what I want you to do:

  • Write down the top 3 places you go in a week
  • Write down a boring question you could ask someone at each of those three places
  • Cross out that boring question
  • Replace it with a more substantive version of the question
  • Post the boring version in the Comments, below, along with the new, substantive version.  

If you’re having trouble coming up with the substantive version of the boring question, post the boring version in the Comments and we’ll all help you come up with something better.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S NOT BORING?

Social media is starting to get out-of-hand for me.  I’m reading Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds about ten times a day.  Yikes!

 Are you like that, too?  Well, make the time a little more useful by spreading the word about our Village.  It’s just a matter of clicking a few buttons.  These buttons: Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn StumbleUpon

QUICK REVIEW

  • People are taught to start conversations at the beginning, with pedigree questions 
  • Pedigree questions can be boring conversation killers
  • Start in the middle of the conversation with a substantive question or comment
  • Share how you turned a boring question into a substantive question in the Comments, below
Jeremy Hamburgh
Jeremy Hamburgh

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