Hello! It’s good to see you again! Did you miss me? I definitely missed you. What have you been up to lately?
Yes friends, after an extended hiatus, I am back writing for the Wheelhouse. It was a good break, full of learning, growth, and not as much sleep as I would have expected. Thanks for asking.
Long-time readers of the Wheelhouse know that I have often written about the pains of small talk, and provided tips for how to navigate those party non-sequiturs with fun, serious, and interesting questions – some jokes, some actual conversation gold nuggets. Now, my return to writing has provided me the chance to tackle one of the hardest conversation types out there: the person you haven’t seen in a long time but are now forced to talk to in a casual manner.
We’ve all been there, right? You happen to run into someone you haven’t seen in years, and while you may initially be excited to say hi, you quickly realize that there may have been a reason you didn’t stay best friends forever with this person. It’s not that they’re a terrible human being or anything (hopefully), but the circumstances that once brought you together have changed, and that connection is that much harder to reestablish.
So you have a choice, you can either pretend to get a call and start staring at your phone, or you can attempt to engage in conversation beyond the question I asked at the beginning of this post.
This is also an option, but let’s hope it never comes to this. Via condenaststore.com
If you choose the latter, here are some questions to get the conversation flowing:
- What’s the most significant event that happened to you in the last X years? Why was it significant?
- If they moved to another city, ask them what took them to that city originally and if they are still involved with that endeavor.
- How upset are you that David Mitchell was left off the short list for the Man Booker Prize?
- Point out a mutual friend in the crowd, and make up a brief update on that person to see if they call your bluff.
- Point to a person you don’t know, pretend you do, and try to pass off the plot of Bambi as their life story.
- This year has seen a rise in conversation about misogyny. Between Elliott Rodger, #YesAllWomen, and most recently the high prevalence of women-hating in the gaming world, do you think it’s time for a serious change in the way men and women perceive and interact with each other? Try and ask this in the middle of light-hearted conversation to throw them for a loop.
- If the Bambi plotline doesn’t work, try Toy Story 1-3.
- What do you think was the song of the summer?
- Do you ever think of me, late at night, and an unexplainable longing takes hold of you? No? Just me then…
- If you could go back to [year you first met] and change one thing, what would it be?
- Should Obama strike ISIS without the approval of Congress?
- Ask about their new local sports team (again, only if they moved).
- Were you surprised that Chris Pratt turned out to be a bankable mega-movie star?
- Start asking them about something that you know didn’t happen with them. When they say they don’t remember or it wasn’t them. Press a little further. Keep going until they either walk away in disgust or break down and admit that it was them in an effort to be polite. Kind of like this:
You get the point. Try and engage the person to talk about their life now in a meaningful and interesting way, and you’ll both come away from the conversation glad to have run into each other. But whatever you do, don’t say you’ll hang out with them soon. You’re not here to lie, either to them or yourself.
And feel free to use these questions on me the next time you see me. After all, it’s been a while!