When you ask a really big question, people can respond like you have asked them a question on a gameshow – they think for three seconds and say “I don’t know”.
That conversation might be killed at this point. Or with some awareness, it could become something special.
Don’t be afraid of an uncomfortable pause. After the person says “I don’t know”, it’s not necessarily the end of their consideration. Let the pause linger enough for the person to think of their answer. Often this is as little as 10 seconds.
Maybe an answer won't eventuate then & there. But the person comes back to you another day and says “I was thinking about that question you asked me. And….”
As a society, we have become far too expectant of conversation remaining light. We make small talk or witty banter. We keep people at arm’s length. We don’t throw curveballs. We give pat answers to pat questions.
Why are we so afraid of big questions?
It’s because big questions can mean big answers.
Conversation can be full of revelations, it is life changing. The catalyst of it can take you down unexplored paths.
You’re outside your comfort zone, thinking outside the box. You’re seeking undiscovered angels instead of sticking with the devil you know. It’s new territory.
And that’s all bold & scary. And extremely rewarding.
Opening with a big question can be too much too soon. But be pro-active in asking one after the opening chit-chat.
When did you last ask a big question? And which big question could you ask today?
On the course of thinking on a new line, we can stumble on an idea trail. If we follow it, that idea starts to take shape.
When we're in a forced conversation, the temptation is to default to light filler topics. But it's easy to have a gripping conversation with someone you have never met before. It could be more memorable than you expect.
The future is here. This is the new approach to conversation - the unexpected, the unconventional, the unpredictable.
When you talk to someone, you realise they have passions, struggles, quirks & hopes. The same as you. This is how conversation builds acceptance of diversity.
When we bump into someone we haven't seen in a while, conversation doesn't always come easily. What should you talk about after all these years?
The fascinating thing about children is that they see the world in a different way to what you do. Even more, they have tremendous imaginations. Why wouldn’t you want to tap into that?
Complaining people are boring. If you need to get things off your chest, apply some strategy to it.