What is not being said or noticed?

Sometimes it seems like it’s not enough just to be yourself – you have to make yourself seem interesting, you have to stand out, you have to give people a reason to be interested in you and to devote time to you. And that actually makes a lot of sense: time is precious, and folks would rather spend it in places and with people that give them something they didn’t have before.

One thing I think about, whether it is in a conversation or on a Facebook or other comment thread, is this: what is something the people are not thinking about, but that is relevant to what they are thinking about? It could be a different angle on the same point of view, or it could be something that leads to a complete change of subject. For example:

Person X: the weather is really cold right now! It was so hard for me to get up this morning.

Person Y: Yeah, it’s been pretty cold the past couple of days. I have so little time these days I forget to check the weather before I go out, and then I realized I wish I had dressed in warmer clothes.

Me: You all seem kind of stressed out by this weather. How much sleep did you get? If you aren’t sleeping well, the cold always feels colder because your body isn’t well rested.

There is no magic bullet for “making yourself interesting,” and you can’t force things that aren’t there, of course. But always remember, as a positive person, that at any given time there are trillions of different possibilities for how the next moment will take place. Other responses to that conversation could include:

Me: I know a place where you can get good warm clothes for cheap. Want to know more?

Me: What do you think helps you most of all when it gets cold? (provoking introspection)

Me: Would you all like to get coffee or hot chocolate? If not now, maybe another time?

Almost every conversation has these opportunities built into it. I know a lot of people who don’t really care for “small talk” and understandably so, because small talk is boring! I prefer “growth talk,” where we can see our sense of contribution and learning grow just by having conversations that don’t necessarily follow all the “rules.” A good example of a response to the above dialogue that is a little cheeky but can draw feelgood laughs in the right moment might be the following:

Me: It’s definitely pretty cold. I have a friend who has been chattering to me about how she is fed up with her partner and wants to break up with him, but she hasn’t kicked him out of her bed for two nights straight – it must be cold!

I bet you can think of a good deal more responses. Post them in the comments! And let’s all have more meaningful, more connecting conversations.

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