If there’s one thing that everyone hates, it’s small talk. Whether it’s stale remarks about the weather or the universally rhetorical nature of the question, “How are you?” – small talk rarely elicits interesting or meaningful conversation, and typically leaves participants feeling bored, inauthentic, and disconnected. Here’s how you can drop the act and get right into the weeds of the private and personal with someone you just met and shouldn’t know that well!
The more out-of-pocket and uncalled for, the better. If possible, research things about the person beforehand, and then hit them with highly specific, invasive questions about the things they like, the people they know, the person they’re seeing but haven’t labeled things with yet. If the conversation is more spontaneous and coming prepared isn’t an option, utilize context clues to fuel your queries. Questions like, “When’s the last time you showered?” or “I see you have a few missed calls from your mom, what’s going on with you two?” are specific, sensitive, and usually reserved for people we already know on a personal level – in other words, perfect for taking your conversation from bland and banal to weirdly zeroed-in on their relationship with their mother.
Choose honesty over politeness.
This isn’t the queen – don’t hold yourself to archaic societal standards of “politeness” and lose out on getting to know someone on a genuine level. Scare them into authenticity with your blunt honesty. Tell them how you really feel about your life, your job, their job, and them as a person. Don’t hold back, and express yourself with reckless abandon. They’ll appreciate your honesty, and you’ll gain a cool reputation as the “scary and mean” one in your social circles.
Don’t be afraid to share details about yourself.
Get personal. Share things you have never shared with anyone. Tell them little secrets about your health that you’ve been keeping from your doctor. Let them know where you stand on group sex. Create a space that allows for the conversation to go deeper. Nothing says “new friend” like forced intimacy and long, uncomfortable silences mid-conversation punctuated only by your heavy breathing.
So, the next time you find yourself alone at the coffee machine with that coworker you don’t know very well, ditch talking about the weather altogether and make things immediately weird by asking them if they’d like to take a look at the mole on your back instead!