I have what has become almost a fear of small talk. If someone starts asking me about the weather or what I did with my day or their terrible experience in a shop, I want to shout at them 'I know you think about important issues and that there are things which make your heart happy and things which tear you apart, what keeps you awake at night? What makes you get up in the morning? TELL ME because that's what's interesting'. I spend quite a lot of time with my best friend and I'm spoiled, really, because there literally isn't anything we don't talk about. I'm so lucky to have a friendship where I can say 'this is how I feel right now' as easily as I can say 'what shall we have for dinner?'. It's different though, because that friendship is already formed. That can happen because we know each other. We know, fundamentally, what keeps each other awake at night and what makes us get up in the morning. What frustrates me, is when I don't really know someone, and
I was lucky enough to have a conversation a couple of weekends ago, at a hen weekend over a three course meal at Jamie's Italian in Cambridge (which made the experience even more lovely) with someone who I had met only that day. We knew two things about each other; what we looked like, and the fact that we are both Christians. That was it.
The conversation went on for three hours and two weeks later, there's no way I could even summarise it, apart from the fact that ten minutes in, I said 'wow, you're really great at asking questions'. They weren't intrusive questions. It was simple, 'give me as much detail as you feel comfortable with', but with the opportunity to go into as much detail as you wanted to.
This has been something which has bugged me for a while, but on the back of that conversation, and also listening to The Mind Palace podcast where they LOVE deep people and proper questions, these are the questions which I've enjoyed answering. I've not necessarily been answering to anyone, sometimes it's just challenging to answer them to myself. It challenges how well I know myself, and how aware I am of who I am. Ask people, see what happens:
- Do you get on with your siblings?
- How did you become a Christian? (Or why do you hold the beliefs that you do, etc)
- If you had £50 and a day to yourself, what would you do?
- What's your favourite book? Why do you like it?
- What was your school like?
- What do you see yourself doing in 10 years time?
- Why do you study what you study?
- Who, In your life, would you not have been the same without? Who inspired who you are today?
Try it. I promise you, you will get to know people far faster and in a far more authentic manner, than by just knowing what town they're from.