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The Conversation (Continued)

By SammyK on Sat, Feb 21st 09 at 04:38PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

So I just realized that my last post is being misinterpreted. That's the beauty of online writing, you never actually write what you think you're writing.

Just to clear up a few things:

  1. Yes, I love meeting new people.
  2. Yes, I do strike up conversations with new people... several times a day.
  3. No, I don't ignore people who try to talk to me.
  4. And the post was supposed to be light-harted and funny. The guy from the photo, Mark from Canada and I were laughing about it together as we talked about what motivated us to travel the world. (Yes, I later had a real conversation with him that lasted more than an hour.)

I know I'm not alone on this one. I've talked to heaps of people who feel like robots when they strike up conversations with new people. The Conversation is so predictable and feels so fake. Half the time the people forget what you told them and end up asking you again later on in the same Conversation. Yikes!

So I was hoping to inspire people to not ignore each other when encountering new people, but instead, break the ice with something other than, "Where are you from?"

The most memorable conversations I've had with people started off with completely off-the-wall questions or some funny comment.

I love to have conversations with people that know nothing about me and I know nothing about them, but we eventually discover things about each other through real conversation. Not the superficial-feeling 3 WQ's (Where you from/been/going).

I've also noticed that conversations that start organically (not the 3 WQ's) usually lead to us pairing up and doing some traveling or some cool activity together.

So if you're really in a rut and can't think of anything else to break the ice with other than, "Where you from?" here's 3 quick tips.

  1. Look around you. Is there something about your circumstance that you can point out? Be a kid - point out the obvious. "Oh, you're a fellow MAC lover." "Is your hair always pink, or do you sometimes change colors?" "Does your room also smell like a locker room?"
  2. After you've establish some conversation, be creative about asking where they're from. Don't be afraid to be silly. To a person with a British accent: "So your accent is German, right?"
  3. You can discover where they've been so far, but don't just ask them to list off the places. You're likely to forget most of them anyways. You'll likely talk about traveling since you're obviously both interested in it, so as you're talking about a place you've been to, ask them if they've been there as well.

Who knows, maybe just because you started the conversation differently than everyone else, you might end up marrying and having three kids and a dog named Spot.

Comments

Shane wrote on February 21st 09 at 05:48PM
Totally understand where you're coming from Sam. Personally I like a little teasing. If I know the the other person is American I will ask what part of Canada they're from. Or if they start with "I'm American". I will say that I love Peru.
Mark wrote on February 21st 09 at 06:17PM
The irony of the previous post was that once Sam explained the point of the post he was writing and the picture was taken, I couldn't help but as where he was from. I couldn't help it. It's just so easy to fall into that trap of asking one of those three questions...
Ethan wrote on February 21st 09 at 07:30PM
I hate when people ask "Hey How are you?" Espically when they are walking by. They don't care!!! Small talk is a waste.
Shawn wrote on February 22nd 09 at 03:47AM
What kills me is when I say I traveled in Egypt for five months or Turkey for 2.5 months, they ask "what did I do?"

My answer, I traveled the country. Hello, ding dong, I hope the bell went off.

Most people think that there must be some sort of purpose for staying in a country for a length of time.

I don't allow a superficial conversation to take place, it is too boring, although talking about a person's route and getting ideas for a country is a good thing.
Camilla wrote on February 22nd 09 at 07:47PM
I'm with Sam on this one. To illustrate the point I met a guy whos first words to me were "How was your trip?". I then ended up travelling with him for 3 weeks and have made a proper friend (not just one who wants to add you to facebook and never talks to you again).
Peter Carey wrote on February 23rd 09 at 10:35AM
Great follow up, especially the suggestions of how else to strike up a conversation. Ignore the people who can't take a joke. :)
David P wrote on February 23rd 09 at 04:56PM
So...where are you going next?
David P wrote on February 24th 09 at 08:38AM
OK in all seriousness, where are you going in Thailand and when will you be there? I have two female friends in Thailand waiting to hear from you :)
The incredible story of how two recent college grads are traveling around the world on an impossible budget.
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