This week an email request arrives from a friend who has the weird belief I know something about communicating with people. Although she’s an expert in her field, I know she’s shy and uncomfortable in crowds. What she initiated with her seemingly simple question was an honest response that then led into the absurd.
For your entertainment, in this post I’ll share our exchanges. I’d love to read your personal stories and reactions…
In her first email, she asks, “Can you coach me I how to make small talk?”
To get a better perspective of her need, I write back, “How small? The size of an inch, a foot, a yard? Who’d be the recipient?”
Then I add, “I just tend to wander away.” (Which is true when I find myself bored or uninterested in the conversation).
She responds with, “I’m going to a fundraiser for our local MLA next Saturday. Not sure how to interact with the people there. Want to feel more confident. It’s only 2 hours, late afternoon.”
Okay. After a bit of thought, I send her this:
“All you have to do is ask any person about themselves. And away they go…
- How are you connected to this?
- Have you lived here all your life? No? Where are you from? Yes? Where’s your family from?
- What are your interests/hobbies?
- Have you read any good books lately”? Movies? Tv programs? Theatre? What are your favourites/recommendations?
- What are your favourite activities?
- Do you have family here?“
I suspected any of these questions would lead into a fuller conversation.
Next, I get this surprising response:
Hmm. Now, she’s opened the door to my imagination… So-o-o-o, I go there with,
“Ask more generic question. Are these less personal …
- What brand/colour is your underwear?
- Do you have a lover? Do you mind if I share his/her contact info w a few people I think may be interested?
- Have you had any surgeries? Yes? Show me your scars.
- Are your family members speaking to each other?
- How many cavities do you have? Please show me?
- “how did they make their money?
- What kind of future do they envision for Canada/ is it aligned with the one they want…”