It’s inevitable. You run into your mother’s neighbors’ aunt at a dinner party and you know each other, but you don’t know know each other, so you fumble into stilted small talk until someone politely excuses themselves to hit the ladies’ room, or refill a drink.
It’s enough to make you want to avoid the next dinner party altogether (if not for the cheese).
And so, a small reminder for myself:
Ask “What did you do today?” instead of “How are you?”
I first learned this trick from a family friend and retired psychologist who says that when faced with a small talk scenario, “What did you do today?” sends the brain into a logical/info zone rather than theoretical/emotion zone. It’s far easier for people to conjure up a list of what they did rather than how they felt, so the conversation flows more comfortably (and is ever-enlightening).
Bonus points: Work will likely come up in a response, so you’re saved from asking the dreaded follow-up question: What is it you do for a living?
Go forth and mingle, friends. I’ll be the one by the cheese.
Tell me: what small steps are you exploring these days? I’d love to hear!
p.s. These are a series of small steps that will (hopefully) provide one giant leap to greater things. Not for mankind, but for me, and perhaps for you, which will always be good enough in my book. More here and here.