Tag Archives: conversation

talking points.

Somewhere along the line, I made the inner determination that I would find a way to make anyone and everyone talk to me – whether they wanted to or not. I was determined to find that secret weapon – that one question or process that would open up the tightest closed mouth and unleash the personality within.

After an undetermined amount of study, I realized a few things about getting people to open up. The odds are in your favor if: 1) You can quickly find something in common that you and the other person can nerd out about. 2) Conversation can be pulled out of the unwitting subject with a bout of competition. 3) People will talk when topics are brought up that are a) common as heck, b) polar in popular opinion. 4) You have stories on standby should your subject not want to talk.

I found the secret ingredient topic: Pickles…But before you write me off, hear me out. I’ve tested this. It has a decently high success rate.

Think about it. Pickles are super common. Basically everyone knows what it is. And popular opinion is usually polar: People typically either love or hate pickles.
I, personally, do not enjoy pickles. I have a traumatic experience behind them that fuels my dislike. When I ask people what their opinion is on pickles, they either side with me and we have an alliance against all things pickles, or they switch to defense and find themselves clarifying – all pickles? Some pickles? What about bread and butter? Dill? Oh my goodness! You really don’t like all of them?

And that, friends, is how conversations start.

Then from there, it’s sometimes fun for me to take the discussion to the next level of potential absurdidy: Have you ever known someone, or personally experienced non-life threatening electric shock? I have. And it was a dumb mistake on my part. Haha!
Once that discussion dies out, the next logical topic stems around if you or anyone you know has had an almost drowning experience? I have. And it’s a tale that goes down in history as how not to tell your mother you almost drowned.
Usually, by that point, people are loose enough that conversation flows naturally. So. Good luck with that. 🙂

Ok let’s be real. You’re probably wondering what my pickle trauma and near death experiences are.

Pickle trauma: My best friend throughout middle school loved pickles. One day, my friend Emma came over and mom prompted me to ask her if she wanted a snack. Of all the things I happened to say as I browsed through the cabinets, I mentioned that we had a jar of pickles. Emma decided she wanted pickles. So, being the good friend that I am, I went to open the jar of pickles. As I opened it, the worst thing ever happened. I spilled it all over myself. I spent the rest of the day smelling like pickles…even though I changed my shirt. Smh.

Electric shock: Apparently when I was a young’un, I stuck keys in an electrical socket. Which explains my hair.

Almost drowning: I’ll write about it in another post. This one is long enough!

Would you rather…

One of my favorite things to ask people is the classic series of “would you rather,” questions. I recently did this the other day while sitting at a dinner table with some volunteers at church, and the results were fascinating! By simply starting with questions like, “Would you rather have vanilla or chocolate ice cream?” whole worlds of conversation can be opened up!

This is an updated approach to my classic conversation starter questions, which work, but don’t always provide the most favorable results. I began this quest of building conversations back in high school, when I would approach individuals who were withdrawn in a crowd. It was my goal to get them connected and in a conversation. My first question in this series was as follows:

“What do you think about the dwindling population of lawn gnomes in our society?”

Most people had no idea what I just said, so I’d repeat myself. The question usually knocked them just off center, so I came back with a second question…

“Do you like pickles?”

As simple as that question is, it really can ignite a fire of a conversation. I have found the pickles are one thing that people are seriously opinionated on. Usually, they either love them or hate them and would love to tell you all about why they stand where they stand! I, for one, am not a fan of the food, which usually gets pickle lovers riled up. At this point, we are ready to move onto conversation number three:

“Have you ever, or have you ever known someone that has almost drowned?”

Be wary of this question, funny though it may be. If the story goes into someone that did drown, backpedal immediately into sympathy and retreat to pickles and relish. On the flipside, I have a great story to share about a time at an honors retreat when I almost drowned in a canoe accident. If this topic goes well, ask the same question again, except with the topic of electrocution (same caution applied).

It is pretty easy to see how these questions can be either a huge success, or a terrible failure. This is why I am now exploring the realms of “would you rather,” questions…two options. The one who answers chooses whether they want to share a story alongside the answer.

That being said, what are your favorite “Would you rather?” questions? Here are a few of mine: