How to turn a small interview into a smart conversation

Tips from a comedian and a journalist about the art of switching from small talk to big ideas all summer.
Imagine almost every situation where two or more people are together: wedding reception, job interview, two policemen on vacation in a whirlpool.

What do these situations have in common? Almost all people try to talk to each other. But in the moments when a conversation would improve a meeting, we often fail. We can not think of anything.

Or worse, we are doing a fair job. We stumble into our romantic, professional and social worlds just so as not to crush us and never to believe we could fly away. We come home sweaty and swollen and eat a birthday cake in the shower.

We stumble into our romantic, professional and social worlds just so as not to crush us and never to believe we could fly away.

At the headquarters of the conversation, we decided to change that. Here are some tips for introverts (and everyone else) on how to turn small discussions into big ideas during the next social engagement with strangers:

Ask for stories, not answers
One way to go beyond discussion is to ask open questions. Ask questions that invite people to tell stories instead of responding to a sober answer.

Instead of . ,
“How are you?”
“How was your day?”
“Where are you from?”
“What to do?”
“In which industry do you work?”
“What is your name?”
“How was your weekend?”
“What’s happening?”
“Would you like some wine?”
“How long have you lived here?”

Try it. ,
“What is your story?”
“What have you done today?”
“What’s the strangest thing about where you grew up?”
“What’s the most interesting thing that happened at work today?”
“How are you doing your job?”
What does your name mean, what do you want with it?
“What was the best on your weekend?”
“What are you looking forward to this week?”
“Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room?”
“What does this house remind you of?”
“If you could blink, where would you go now?”

Break the mirror
When we talk a little, it is often a phenomenon that we call “reflecting”. In our attempts to be polite, we often respond directly to people’s questions, repeat their observations, or simply agree with what they say.

Mirrored example:
James: It’s a beautiful day!
John: Yes, it’s a beautiful day!

Can you see it? John reflected James’ opinion and language and followed the social norm, but he paralyzed the discussion and missed a moment of joy. Instead, John must practice the art of disruption and promote dialogue:

Unreflective example:
James: It’s a beautiful day!
John: You say the weather was just like the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor. If it really happened.

Can you see it? Now talk to James and John! Be provocative. The absurdity is underestimated.

Skip sheep to the expected answer
An even better way to break the mirror of boring conversation is to hand over the expected answer and go somewhere to the next level:

Instead of:
Ron: How was your flight?
Carlos: My flight was good!

Beverly: It’s hot today.
Gino: Yeah, it’s really hot.

Rice: What’s new?
Wedge: Hey, what’s going on?

to attempt:
Ron: How was your flight?
Carlos: I would be more interested in an airline whose ticket price is based on your weight and your IQ.

Beverly: It’s hot today.
Gino: In this dimension yes.

Rice: What’s new?
Wedge: Wash your chicken sprays bacteria everywhere.

Go ahead, be brave. Understand the conversation at the table! Turn small discussions into great ideas at the next wedding party to attend! You never know which ideas are worth spreading next.

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