Small Talk is dreadful. You talk about the weather. You tell people how busy you are (with what?). You count the seconds until the awkwardness is finally over and you go your separate ways.
The reason that small talk exists is that we want to have a good social interaction with someone we don’t know very well. This is how humans are programmed* – we are naturally social creatures. This is also how we succeed in life**.
The problem is, how do you create a bond with a complete stranger? The weather is something that binds us all, but it won’t build that quality connection.
I never met a kid who hated dinosaurs. We all have some common connection to them, whether through a movie, TV show, or an early toy. And I Accidentally discovered that simply mentioning dinosaurs in passing triggers some amazing conversations.
Whenever I feel the urge to talk about the weather, I force myself to instead ask something like, “what’s your favorite dinosaur?” I’ve been shocked by how receptive people are to it.
Since starting this a few weeks ago, I have had people relive their childhood love of The Land Before Time animated movie, people have talked about the new Titanosaur exhibit at the America Museum of Natural History, and one lady, overhearing a dinosaur conversation on the elevator, jumped in to say that fossils are a great investment opportunity.
If you try it and like the results, make it your next 30 day challenge! Pledge to have one dinosaur related conversation a day for 30 days, and post about using a hash tag like #dinosaurchallenge
As for me, I’m old school, so when I think dinosaurs, I happily remember an NES game called Joe & Mac.
* “Social cooperation is our key for survival and reproduction. It is not enough for individual men and women to know the whereabouts of lions and bison. It’s much more important for them to know who in their band hates whom, who is sleeping with whom, who is honest, and who is a cheat.” Yuval Harari discusses this in his book Sapiens – that humans were able to outlive other Sapien species because of our large social bonds.
** “These investigations revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people… ” Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.