- be memorable while doing small-talk?
- be good at practicing intercultural communication?
- be able to really see the person in front of you?
- make the other person feel seen, appreciated and understood?
I know you are.
So feel free to keep reading, and bare with me.
Apparently, a lot of people do not like small-talk.
And yet, they do it unintentionally and without purpose, somehow in a sloppy or culturally blind way.
And then there are people that even though it is clear they do not like it, the feel obliged to do it and risk to collect a huge amount of awkward moments that will just reinforce the reasons why they didn't like small-talk in the first place.
Even if I am an introvert, I actually like and enjoy small-talk.
It is a way to create rapport and make a situation pleasant for me and for people I am getting to know or interacting with.
Small-talk can be a blast when done in a creative and personal way.
You say something, I react and ask questions, you reply, I then say something relevant to what you told me and so on...
Question after question, I get to know you, you get to know me, we establish a connection (it doesn't matter if for life or for five minutes) and we can see how far we can go from there.
It is like playing table tennis with a good opponent: if done right, it is stimulating and challenging in a positive way and helps one to become a better player herself.
That said, small-talk comes with a caveat: if you do it with someone not good at it, it can be a huge pain. Some people are terrible conversationalists: they stay there while looking at you dead in the eye and just kill every topic or even worst expect to be entertained without giving anything valuable to the conversation themselves.
In those cases, one feels blocked in a sort of conversation limbo and just think "Oh gosh, WHEN is this thing going to end and I will be able to leave this conversation without feeling rude?!".
And then there are the questions that just destroy my willingness to talk to the other person every time I get asked this evil trio of just apparently neutral questions within the first five minutes of meeting someone new.
So next time, please...
Don't ask me where I am from, ask me where I am heading to.
This will make me memorable, to you. Because this will actually tell you something real about me.
Where I am from, my background and the circumstances I had to face during my life were more or less an accident.
It doesn't matter if good or bad, awesome or perfect for some horror movies, they have very little to do with me and in the best scenario will tell you if I were lucky or not, if I was born in a "popular" country or not, which challenges I had to experience or if I have been a pampered child or a geeky girl. Nothing more, nothing less.
In the worst scenario, they will confirm your bias and prejudices and help you to filter whatever I am going to say afterward through your own preconceptions about something I had very little or no influence at all on.
They are all about the past. And trying to define someone through the past is not only dangerous but in most cases also short-sighted and pretty useless.
The past is the past. It's gone, and it's too late: You are not going to be part of my past anyway.
PS. If you are not into the questions I posted or you consider them too bold for people you don't know well, Alexandra Franzen offers a very interesting list of questions you can use to break the ice.
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