Being a bit of an extrovert (read that as a raging extrovert) I quite enjoy meeting people. However, whether it is my age or something else, I have begun to really struggle with small talk.
Let me give you an example.
I was at a party not long ago and after the initial introductions to a very pleasant lady we began the necessary small talk. The conversation began with a simple question from her: Do you have children? My heart sank as I responded that I didn’t and was given a big encouraging “Not yet”.
We proceeded to have a lengthy discussion about her children, life as a mother and the wonders of it all.
It wasn’t good to talk.
And it got me thinking. Why do conversations have to start with something that might distance us?
You see, I’ve been guilty of asking questions because I want to talk about what interests me. When I was a teacher, I probably started most conversations with new people by wanting to know what they do. This would allow me to talk about what I did because I was passionate about it, I felt secure in it.
Now, being a non-working childless woman, I’ve really been challenged to think about my small talk. Where have all the open-ended questions gone?
What do you do? Do you work? Do you have children? These are the most common questions I am asked.
My answer now is: I am doing life. This may make me sound like a serious criminal but it is my honest answer.
If you want more then try these:
How do you fill your time? How’s life? What are you passionate about? What are your hopes for your life? What’s your story?
Surely anyone can answer these and not feel judged. Not feel less than. These allow the person being asked to share what they want to. That might be the career they love, the children they adore, the cats they are besotted with (that is applicable) and it might just open up some fun talk.
So, I’m apologising to anyone who meets me at a party in the near future because my small talk might not be very good. I’m going to be looking for connection so be prepared!
And if in doubt, just ask me which actress would play me in the biopic of my life (obviously Zooey Deschanel and Ryan Gosling taking the Elis role).
'Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.' Ephesians 4:29