You probably know of Dorothea Lange’s famous 1936 photograph “Migrant Mother” (aka Florence Owens Thompson), an icon of the Great Depression. Perhaps you don’t know, as I didn’t, just how much the photo was staged and later altered.
- Don’t multitask.
- Don’t pontificate.
- Use open-ended questions.
- Go with the flow.
- If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
- Don’t equate your experience with theirs.
- Try not to repeat yourself.
- Stay out of the weeds.
- Be brief.
I’m better at some of these than others. I think about #6 a lot because it’s so easy to do, and I think about #5 a lot because, for me at least, it’s so hard to do.
Additionally, WSJ’s “Save Yourself From Tedious Small Talk” offers some conversation-openers that spark pleasure and deeper thinking beyond today’s weather and the traffic you hit on your way here:
- Have you been working on anything exciting recently?
- What was the highlight of your day?
- Any exciting plans this summer?
- What do you do to relax?
- What’s keeping you awake at night?