Sick of Chit Chat

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I like to think that I’m a professional conversation starter. Whether it’s dance, rallying funding for an arts project or just connecting friends with like minded people – I like bringing people together. I’ve been spending some time thinking about what it means to build connection in person. How do you curate that first 5-7 min of conversation that could yield a potential friendship or business relationship? Why does it feel forced? Why isn’t it natural for everyone? How could you make it easier?

I’ve given a couple of workshops on the topic and try to focus on the following three ideas:
1. Decide your outcome before you get there – who are you looking to meet? Why are you there? What is success? The number of people you talk too? The number of free beers you drink. Decide the outcome and you’re more likely to feel like it was worth while. Going to a networking event out of obligation is always a recipe for disappointment.
2. Ask ‘good’ questions. Avoid ‘yes/no’ answers. Listen actively to what the other person is saying and respond to it with curiosity. A good response to someone’s statement is ‘That’s interesting, what do you think about ….’
3. Be able to identify the introvert versus the bore. Sometimes the most useful people in the room are shy. Be willing to investigate whether or not someone is an introvert or dull. You may have to put in a bit more work, but I promise if often yields a positive result.

I know it’s energetic work. There is no way for it not to be, but if you can give yourself some structure around what you want from these interactions if often makes it so much better…feeling. What are the bits you find the hardest? Let me know, I’m curious.

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One thought on “Sick of Chit Chat

  1. I recall comin’ home from work one afternoon on a 504 TTC headin’ west. I was wearing my 1963 blue pencil neck tie, blue pinstripe jacket, black slacks, black-and-white kicks and ever-present grey fedora. Car was packed, as usual, with the dead-eyed, end-of-the-day commuters like myself — except for one passenger. I never would predict it, but I noticed this magenta-haired beauty looking at me, as she was standing and hanging onto the bar. I thought she must be looking at someone else, but as the car began to thin out, she saw an opportunity to sit next to me, and to my surprise, she took it. Then she said the most unusual ice breaker I’ve ever been given in my entire life, and it hit me like a sledgehammer. “I really admire your ‘Cutler and Gross’,” she said, referring to my glasses.

    Ever since then, I’ve been a fan of hers. Seriously, I mean, what a great way to meet somebody!

    I haven’t seen her in person for years now, but I try and keep in touch. She’s changed her hair colour a few times, but to me, I’ll always cherish the memory of a magenta-haired beauty complimenting me on my glasses, one afternoon, on a 504 TTC headin’ west.

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