About six months ago,I decided to get better at making small talk with strangers. The first thing a geek has to understand is that small talk is not,as someone once said to me,“a retarded waste of time.”For non-geeks,small talk communicates something along the lines of “Hello! Although you do not know me,I am a distant member of your tribe. I mean you no harm.”It is important. Not offering small talk freaks people out.
If that’s your goal,then by all means,go for it. Give them that boggle-eyed stare that we all know so well. (I’m not kidding about this. There’s no law that says you have to pretend to be someone other than who you are.) However,if you want to work at “passing”in normal society,then you need to make with the chit-chat. Think of it as a game,think of every encounter with a stranger as an opportunity to polish your skills. (That way,by the time you’re ready to try them on someone you’re interested in,you’ll be in fine fettle.) Level up,baby!
The first rung of small talk –the best place to start –is a compliment. Pick something about the other person,and say something nice. You’ll be shocked at how well this works.
At first,I often found myself flailing to find something to compliment. Thus some notable early failures such as “I like that pen! Does it click?”(Eesh.) Finally I hit on solid gold,and I will now share it with you.
You’re probably staring at the ground anyway,right? Compliment their shoes. This not only kicks off small talk in the right way,it also explains why you’re staring at the ground in the first place. You’re not pathologically shy! You’re just smitten by their footwear!
Here’s the rule:Shoes are either “pretty,”“comfortable,”or “sturdy.”Thus,depending on the shoes,you will say one of these three things:
1. “I love your shoes! They’re really pretty.”
2. “I love your shoes! They look really comfortable.”
3. “I love your shoes! They look really sturdy.”
Then make eye contact (don’t hold it –just a quick glance –it won’t hurt you) and smile.
They’ll take the ball from there. Probably tell you something about where they bought the shoes,or how much they cost. Just nod. Then…you’re done! 9 times out of 10,you can just drop it there and you’ll be golden.
Speaking of footwear,the first 24 sock is finished,as are the first two discs of season 4.
The color made a LOT more sense after I learned that it was named after a lion named Mombassa. Presumably he looked a bit like this handsome fellow:
I can totally see it now! Thanks to Lisa for clearing that up for me.