When I was younger I was really self-conscious. I hated to do things on my own (thought it made me look like I did not have any friends) and I never knew what to say. Also, I often felt dumb. One day my mother gave me the single best piece of advice ever given to me: “Ask people about themselves. Because everyone is an expert on that subject, and they love to talk about it.”
The result? As I have gotten older I am a great party guest. People really like me. Because it is true. People love to talk about themselves. And I love it, too. You know what is really fun? Going to a party by yourself. So much to discover. This exercise has given me license to be more adventurous in other areas of my life.
I was with my friends Karen and Andy the other day and we were talking about a solo trip that I was going to take, and they asked if I would mind being on my own so much. I said no and we talked about why, and they asked how I had gotten to have this sense of adventure. When I told them, Karen looked at Andy and said, “Mary gets it from her mother.” And I realized that she was right.
So thanks Mom (and Dad too!) for giving me such an appreciation of people, art, music, current events, and more.
And about that feeling dumb thing? I figured out a way around that. Ask. You will learn. It will be neat.
When confronted with a stranger, ask them where they are from… what they do… if they have read any interesting books lately. In general, once you get people started on themselves they keep going and you can learn some really interesting things. And if you don’t it can make a good story for you to tell!
Tags: cocktail conversation, small talk