I've been brushing up on my social skills for an upcoming Zoom call. I haven’t been around anyone outside of the house for three years, so I binged on The Nikki Haskell Show episodes & did a little internet research. Here’s what I discovered:
Find Things to Talk About:
Review a mental list of topics you’ve discussed previously & continue on one of them. For example, some bad news that they shared with you last time.
Most people prefer easy questions, like "Is school killing you these days?” or, if they’re not a student ask “Have you thought about going back to school?"
Share something personal about yourself like “Wanna see the sandwich I made right before you called?"
Try a current events prompt such as "Hey, did you hear about that helicopter crash? That was pretty crazy."
Remember the Basics:
Keep the conversation going with light & simple small talk, such as your masterclass idea.
Nod in agreement. Place your hand on your heart. Gasp.
Smile, shake your head & look down, then let out a tiny laugh & say something under your breath.
Keep Things Interesting:
Excuse yourself from the conversation without saying why, then return with the sandwich.
If the other person starts practicing active listening & throwing questions at you, you have two options: Relish it or deflect it. Say something like: "But you don't want to hear about my long covid symptoms all night! Tell me yours.”
Answer questions with a question. For example, if asked "How did you manage to get out of that jam?" answer "Can you keep a little secret?” or “Well, what would anybody do?” then change the subject with an improvised parable.
Don't ask too many questions if your conversation partner continues to appear unresponsive.
We all enjoy a good laugh. Ask them about their life at home.
Wrap Up the Conversation:
Mention that daylight savings screws you up & that you wish you could live in the Hotel Congress in Tucson, except, “ . . . you know, back in the day . . . “
Ask them if they’ve heard from your ex.
Take a bite of the sandwich.
Wish me luck.