Questions to Fight the Small Talk

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Image via Karissa Nickish
Small talk. Let me tell you - I hate it. Naturally, I know I am far from good at it, tend to cringe or often duck & hide whenever it arises. And, I am not the only one: Eleanor Roosevelt claims, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people". I think Eleanor gets my intense dislike and would probably of rather had an in-depth one-on-one conversation with someone than talk about the weather any day. For, small talk is what it's name recalls - small. We are prone to talk about surface similarities and the lives of others which ultimately does not allow for the authentic understanding of one another that we so crave.

So, how do we get past talking about the weather? My answer: be curious. Be interested in others past the initial thing we have in common, past the obvious, and past a factor unrelated to conversation. This does not mean going down the TMI road, but simply choosing to ask good questions that simulate a real and rooted relationship.

01 | What was one of your favorite seasons in life?

WHAT THIS DOES: Sometime the present is not always pretty or fun to talk about, so this question grants us the opportunity to recall a time that we hold dear and share that with one another. Getting to talk about why a year of your childhood was so sweet or how much you adored a certain semester of college creates a space to learn about one another outside of what is right in front of us. 

Image via Karissa Nickish 
02 | If time, money & resources were unlimited, what room would you like to add to your home?

WHAT THIS DOES: Showcases, quite literally, what we want to make space for in our lives. Whether it be a space to create, cook, read or play, this questions allows for our mind to dream out loud and together.

03 | What is one of the best gifts you have either given or received?

WHAT THIS DOES: Allows us to talk about what we value when we give and receive. Birthdays, holidays and various other celebrations come around so often that an idea should pop into our head with ease to avoid the silent stumped face and "that's a good question, but..." response. When we give, we are thinking of the interests of others - this can let us acknowledge the traits we admire in those we love. And, the gifts we like to receive normally come from those who we are fully known by, thus letting it be a natural avenue to talk about ourselves in a real and honest way.

Image via Karissa Nickish
04 | What is one thing you always keep with you?

WHAT THIS DOES: Identifies a unique quirk that you may not notice or guess at first glance. Whether it is a photograph, go-to makeup product or that emergency 20 dollar bill - these small aspects, though material, can showcase a consistency in a person's life that is translated through both their purse and personality.

05 | [...] How are you learning from that? 

WHAT THIS DOES: This is a good follow up question that goes past the "what" of a situation, but doesn't cross into the "why" territory that could be uncomfortable for someone to navigate through in a conversation. By asking someone what they learned from a small instance that may be easy to divert from in a conversation (i.e. doing poorly on a test, a difficult week at work, relational problems), it opens up the door for a friendship centered on growth and authenticity.

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Other go-to questions that cultivate that deeper relationship we desire: What would you want to implement in your daily routine if you had an extra hour each day?, What you would tell yourself to not worry about five years ago?, or What are ways you would reinvent your life (i.e. jobs, locations, hobbies)?

Keep the conversation goin': Do you dislike small talk? How do you get past talking about the weather? 
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1 comment:

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