There are few pleasures in life better than a great conversation.
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Back to stimulating conversation…
When you truly connect with someone, time stands still, space contracts, and you leave whatever event you were at feeling truly alive. On the other hand, there are few miseries worse than a night of endless small talk. An evening of surreptitious glances at the bar and awkward silences will leave you as drained and depressed as a night of new friendships will leave you exhilarated.
So how do you turn one into the other, moving from small talk drudgery into genuine human connection?
Be more interested. If you want small talk to be more interesting, the surest route is to be more interested in your conversation partner.
Ask open-ended questions. There's absolutely no trick that can make one-word answers exciting, so the only solution is to avoid them. Do you know the trivial difference? (that was a closed question). Why not? (that one’s open).
Play the student. Small talk can seem pointless and unstructured — and therefore totally painful — but most everyone understands both the how and why of teaching. So one trick is to turn an aimless chat into a learning session. If there's a subject you're not familiar with, just be honest with that person and 9 out of 10 times they'll teach you about it.