Not Stranger Danger

Many moons ago, we were going to my uncle’s place for dinner. As we waited in the lobby for the elevator, a lady and her kid entered the pre-lobby area, where you have to get buzzed in, whatever that’s called. They knocked, I went over and opened the door.


The lady said “oh, thank you”, as a normal polite person would.
I said, “…”, nothing and just stared for 2 seconds. Then walked our separate ways.


When I was younger, I was a quiet kid and a mumbler.


In this specific case, my sister pointed it out my super awkward interaction with a “what the heck was that, you just stared and walked away?!” Because although I meant to say “you’re welcome”, it got lost traveling from my brain to becoming human words.


Anyway, the point is, talking to strangers is usually weird. But it’s also important, can’t do much in life without interacting with strangers. Then they become acquaintances, then maybe friends.


Read a good article about talking to people – One Simple Trick To Have Successful Conversations


Good excerpt:


Here are some very simple ways to help you ask more open-ended questions:

  • Start a question with “What do you think about…” this signals very clearly that you want more than a simple one-word answer.
  • Another good starting phrase is “Tell me about…”. These words also send a signal that you are passing the ball over to the other person and expect them so say a little more than the bare minimum. Great ones that work for me are: “Tell me how you chose this career?” or “Tell me about your home city”.
  • Another great trick is to follow up a short answer with a “Why?”. For example, if the question was “What do you think about the candidates in this election?” and you get back “Not much”, then you can simply follow up with “Why?” or “Tell me more”
I came across the concept of learning how to small talk through a book with that title, The Fine Art of Small Talk. I listened to the audiobook first, or a speech. Highly recommend it.


This is a good intro to her ideas:

It’s not so much what to say, it’s how to say it. Just eye contact and speaking clearly. Their response indicates if there’s more to talk about or just leave it at hello.


It’s good to keep a simple hello in the bank so when you see them again it’s fine to say it again. It’s so awkward if you’ve crossed paths with someone like 10 times and never exchanged words. Too late to start now.


My current arsenal:
  • Smile + “hi”
  • Nod + “hi” (that smile usually goes away by the afternoon)
  • “What brings you here?” – I like the tone, keeps it open-ended. As opposed to do you work here, what do you do, etc. along those same lines.
  • “What’s new or interesting with ______?” – insert name of workplace, organization, or sumn for context

Trying New Additions:

  • “What keeps you busy at work?” – better than, “so what do you do?”
  • “What keeps you busy outside of work?” – digs deeper and then I can talk about DeenUP Athletics :)
  • “Tell me about ____?” – how you started working at X, how you met Y, when you learned Z, etc.

As I re-read that, it occurred to me that most of what I use now are conversation openers and new additions are continue-ers. Natural progression I suppose, like a shift from building rapport to relationships. Insight received.

Good night.

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