Daily Archives: March 5, 2015

Geeks reflections on starting a conversation

Oh, my, it’s awkward again. Can’t I just chat with nice people like everyone else? (c) Ivan’s brain

Being a Software Engineer I was more used to talking to computers or with their help, so most of the real life conversations (especially with new people and in new contexts) had this overtone of awkwardness.

The problem was not in the awkwardness itself (I still feel it a lot), the problem was in me not entering into new conversations with awesome people just because a few conversations did not happen with a few others.
I blamed myself for this feeling for a while, until I realized a simple thing: two interested parties is what is needed to make the chat happen.

“It takes two flints to make a fire.” (c) Louisa May Alcott

Conversation initiation

– Hey, is that a #$@#^!%-zator?
– Yes, wanna see something cool?
– Sure!

If the conversation is meant to start (i.e. if everyone is interested), it will happen even if all you are a bunch of weirdoes.

Surely, being experienced communicator raises your chances to keep the chat going during the initial stages. But if the other one is not interested – the result is easy to predict. Also do you really want to talk about the weather?

If you’re reading this, you’re kind of interested : ) Understanding when the other person is not is simple too:

  • Not looking at you
  • Short responses (e.g. ‘yes’ vs ‘yes and …’)

Remember: it’s totally ok for someone to don’t care about you at all. We’re all different everybody has their unique interests and strong sides so matches don’t happen all the time. It’s somewhat a numbers game.

not you again carpet

What if I feel like a fraud?

It’s completely ok!

Probably you’ll be glad to hear that your feeling has a name, impostor syndrome. Also some studies say that it is especially common among high-achievers. If you feel that way – hit me up, I’m pretty sure we’ll have what to talk about.

What to do if the other party is not interested?

Walk on and talk to someone else.

Absence of interest might be temporary in a short term (so stop bothering the driver) or long term (so in a few years it will be your turn to be the highbrow).

not_you_again_carpet

It surprised me how changing the model of initiating the conversations on a party from ‘all or nothing’ to the numbers game bloated my ego with self-assurance.

By the way, awesome people I know have this blessing of being able to find interesting perspectives just in everyone and everything. Consequently, if a conversation did not happen – chances are you haven’t missed a thing!

Taking it to another level

It’s easier to be remembered if you ask your date unconventional questions, e.g. “What’s your deepest fear?” instead of “What’s your favorite movie?” (c) Cool Girl Magazine

I don’t clearly remember which of the teen girlish magazines was my source, but the thing does work for me still.

Recent article on NY Times uses a similar principle. Additionally the method on the article slowly transitions from commonalities to probing questions (which I guess raises the chances of not freaking out the companion).

I’d generalize this idea as a quick escalation. PUA (pick up artist) guys use that to describe the process of quickly getting to the bed, I’m ok with stopping the nonsense chat about the weather as quickly as possible!

Summary

What we’ve learned today:

  • It’s completely ok for a conversation to die off quickly
  • It’s ok for you to quit a conversation you’re not interested in
  • It’s ok to feel weird
  • It’s possible to talk to people without sedating yourself with alcohol or the like
  • I’ll kick your ass if you talk to me about the weather ; )

I know, you can do it! Get your ass out and start a joyful conversation!