April 20, 2010

Ever have a really terrible conversation? It’s one of those things that’s surprising and really depressing for me. I’m so often around people who are accustomed to starting conversations with strangers or people who are genuinely friendly, conversation just flows. It’s like design. I never notice exceptionally good conversations; I only notice the awful ones.

I’m pretty sure I’m not an exceptionally friendly person. I’m not overly nice or overly talkative. Until I warm up, I’m polite, which often comes off cold. In a lot of situations, it probably saves me from being approached when I’d rather not be. But I’m from the Midwest, where it seems more normal to make friendly conversation with strangers. Plus, I have a strong aversion to being rude. So if people do start talking to me, I feel obligated to hold up my end of the conversation. In my mind, if I can do it, so can everyone else.

Conversations are all about give and take. It’s a two-way situation. I’m more than willing to ask questions. If asked questions, I’m pretty willing to tell you about myself – not counting anything weirdly personal. And luckily, I smile and laugh a lot. But I can only do so much on my own. I can only ask so many questions that you don’t answer before I’m out. My limit is about three. After that, I’m done asking; it’s your turn to put in some effort. See? Totally easy. And because it’s easy, I should never have awkwardly bad conversations.


  1. By your definition it is easy to have a good conversation. The problem is some people are just awkward.

    • Yep. If you’re awkward, the conversation is awkward, but not terrible. There’s a difference between you answering my questions awkwardly or asking me things that are way to personal and giving one word answers and not asking questions back. At least they’re trying to give me something to work with.

  2. i can handle strangers i will never see again, but if it’s someone i have to see again, i get nervous and draw blanks. i walk away from an attempted conversation with people i don’t know very well, and about 2 hours later i think ‘oh, a normal person would have said this’

    • I’ve done the same thing. In fact, sometimes I think it’s easier to talk to complete strangers rather than people I don’t know very well. I keep feeling with people I don’t know well, that I should have something more than smalltalk, but usually I don’t.

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