You’re a part of something that will change the world.
Everyday interactions are changing for the better, and you’re leading the charge.
How? Let me tell you a story.
I met someone for the first time recently. She was introduced to a group of us by name and then there was an awkward pause. I believe in opening conversations with a light fun opener but not a dull opener (ie: I never ask someone what they do for a job anymore). So I asked her what her favorite smell is.
Later on, another friend said that he felt this was a too heavy for an opening question.
I had a similar experience in a radio interview where I suggested asking people what the highlight of their week was instead of a reflex “how are you”, and the host said that was too confrontational. I was in disbelief. Good luck ever getting personal if a question like this is too much pressure for you.
I appreciate constructive criticism, but I disagree that an unusual question is inappropriate for opening up a conversation. That said, I wanted to figure out where my friend was coming from to suggest that asking someone a light question was too confrontational.
Right now, our culture is restricted by social expectations. When meeting someone or starting a conversation, keep it polite & impersonal. Keep it predictable, nothing but clichés. Don’t engage on any meaningful level. Have very low standards for the conversation being interesting. Deflect any question that requires real thinking, don’t even ask a question that will require thought.
I want society to raise the bar.
I want reflexive unengaging conversations to be antiquated. Get rid of them.
I want an interesting opening question to be the expectation when meeting someone.
I want conversations to be unpredictable.
I want to learn something when I have a conversation, either about you or the world or myself.
While each conversation doesn’t have to be overly deep, I think each conversation should be personal. That doesn’t mean you need to be sharing secrets & private information with everyone, but they should at least have a taste of the real you. It shouldn’t be the social expectation that conversations are impersonal.
Maybe my friend was right that asking “what’s your favorite smell?” is too confronting a question to ask. At least, maybe that was true for our society last weekend.
But that shouldn’t be true anymore.
I use Awkward Silence all the time, so for me it’s normal to ask an interesting question. It’s normal for me to try to actually get to know someone. And in time by stretching our expectations, this will be normal for everyone starting a conversation.
This is what Awkward Silence is pushing for. This is my vision.
Don’t be afraid to use Awkward Silence just because it’s unexpected. This is what makes it good.