Few things annoy me more than small talk. I can imagine no greater waste of time. When interacting with others, I am eternally interested in the following:
What people think about
Why they made the decisions they have made
What motivates people's actions
How they feel about those actions
I am eternally bored by the following:
A travelogue of their last vacation
Their current acquisitions (home, car, etc.)
Their children's accomplishments
You can imagine how cocktail parties challenge me.
I ask a lot of questions when talking with others. After all, people are genuinely intriguing and, who knows? We might connect through a common area of interest.
Here's an example of questions I might ask at some point in our conversation:
What was that like for you?
What helped you form that opinion?
How did you make that decision?
Listen, I'm simply looking for an interesting conversation. I won't ask about the status of one's mental health, details of childhood or the relationship with one's mother. And I won't be submitting the answers to People Magazine.
Still, this must be incredibly uncomfortable, because it has been noted that others might feel interrogated by my questions. Frankly, I would enjoy it if someone were to ask me any one of these questions rather than blather on about the grandchildren. And I'd be happy to answer.
I mean, don't people ask themselves these questions??
Here's the thing: Instead of talking at each other, could we please talk with each other about something of meaning that engages both parties? Don't you think we could better understand other people through exploring our own feelings, responses and motivations?
Now there's an interesting conversation.
image from davejenkins.com