A Simple Formula For Interesting Conversations

Everyone’s had this experience.

When someone says something to you that doesn’t immediately spark any emotions, or memories, or things that you can directly relate to, it’s difficult to come up with a response that makes that conversation interesting.

So here’s an exercise for you.

The following questions are specifically designed to be difficult to respond to. Purely because they don’t give you much to work with.

For each scenario, I want you to find something about the given topic that genuinely sparks your curiosity. Really look for it… and use it to come up with a response that sparks an interesting conversation.

There’s always something there, however loosely connected. And I’ll show you what I mean with my own example responses afterwards.

Q1. You’re on a first date. Your date orders the $17 burger and tells you, “17 is my lucky number.”

You ask why. They tell you, “It’s just always been lucky for me.”

Then there’s a lull.

How would you continue the conversation on the same topic, turning it into something more interesting?

Q2. You’re at a dinner party with friends. Your friend’s girlfriend, who you just met, tells you, “I do a bit of modelling part time.”

You ask if she enjoys it. She says, “Yeah I love it.”

Then there’s a lull.

How would you continue the conversation on the same topic, turning it into something more interesting?

Pete from Beard Strokings AvatarLet’s walk through my own thought process.

Q1. My first feeling is doubt. Does luck even exist? Where does it come from? Or is everything just random chance?

And there’s my question:

“I’m not sure if I really believe in luck. I think I’m more in the ‘you make your own luck’ camp. Like how much of luck do you think is just coincidence?”

Q2. During the lull my mind would focus on the concept of “modelling” because that’s the word that stood out the most.

My first feeling, from experience, is that models can sometimes be shallow. But how do I use that in this conversation without offending her? How do I find out where she stands on that idea?

I assume she’s probably self-conscious about telling people she’s an aspiring model, and probably hyper-aware of people judging her, so I also want to show her that I’m not judging her. That just because my first thought around models is “some are shallow” … it doesn’t mean that I’m automatically lumping her in with them.

Here’s how I’d do it.

“What are the people like in that industry? Like what kind of people do you work with? Because it’s kind of one of those jobs where no one really knows what happens behind the scenes unless you actually work in it.”

I’m essentially showing her that I see her as separate from “the people in the modelling industry,” making it easier for her to open up.

Someone who’s automatically judged her would not ask a question like that. They’d assume she’s [whatever], avoid the topic and continue with fake pleasantries.

So that’s the thought process you can use to build an interesting conversation out of a lull.

  1. 1.

    Pick the word that stands out the most to YOU.

  2. 2.

    What’s your first feeling around that concept? (Yours are probably different to mine)

  3. 3.

    How can you morph that feeling into a usable question, or statement?

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