I want to be an interesting person.
We’ve all met them- the interesting people. The ones who people gravitate towards at parties and who can have a real conversation with anyone they encounter.
I don’t understand this. As an introvert who hates small talk being the interesting person at a party seems like a stretch or a title reserved only for certain types of people. True, for some people this comes naturally. But I don’t think that it is reserved just for those people. I think we all can, and owe it to others, to be an interesting person- to make an effort to connect with others.
Tip 1: You’re not a viewer, you’re a character.
I’m not sure if it’s due to our entertainment-centric culture, but I’ve found that so often I find myself acting as if I’m watching a play; a silent participant, in my life rather than an active member, affecting and shaping the story. When you go places…be there! Speak up. Make an effort to be on the list when someone retells another who was at the party. If you don’t think that’s possible or worthwhile, maybe you should consider why you are spending your time there.
Tip 2: Ask good questions.
“How are you” always lands flat. And if you’re like me, and hate small talk, ask questions you actually care about. If you ask a good question, you’re more bound to get a good answer.
- What fun things are you doing in the Cities this fall?
- What is the best trip you’ve been on?
- What did you think of last week’s debate? (ok, that one might be a little dangerous)
Tip 3: Know what’s going on in your life.
When someone asks “how are you?” don’t just say good. Every day actually think to yourself, how am I? Is life amazing right now? Then share that and glorify God by noticing and sharing it with others. Is it kind of sucky? You can share that without being a life sucker. Why is it sucky? Maybe work’s really stressful. Say, I’m really enjoying the changing season, but it’s brought a lot of stress at work. How is work going for you? This gives the person an out if they don’t really care about your stress and how you’re doing (which is sometimes the case), but if they do they can answer your question but circle back to you.
Tip 4: Have anecdotes.
I think people sometimes don’t like to talk about themselves because it can seem egocentric, but not doing so can be boring. Have a good story to share! When people ask what’s new with you, it’s good to have a little anecdote for you to use in these situations. Instead of just saying you went camping last week, tell about how you got lost hiking. Instead of just saying work is fine, share about your quirky co-worker.
Tip 5: Know what you’re interested in.
Also, be aware of what you’ve been thinking about. I love sharing ideas and questions with people but don’t often bring it up. I have a friend who has a blog who often does this. He polls the people he meets about the topic of his next blog post to gain more insights and perspectives around the issue before he writes about it. If you hate small talk, this can bring your conversation deeper and to something you care about.
CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK
- Before your next social outing, think through the following:
- Why am I going?
- What questions do I have for the people attending?
- What’s going on in my life and what fun story about it could I share?