The art of conversation

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You're hovering a bit there bucko.Ask A Woman: Suck it up and ask her how she likes the weather.

If you’ve got a question that needs the female treatment, chances are you’re not the only one who wants to ask it.  Beth is our source for the answers.  From opinions on men’s style to decoding the sometimes mysterious ways of women, she’ll take on a different question every Thursday.  And don’t worry, your identity will be protected too.  Click here to get to know Beth, then get in touch with her by sending your question to: askawoman@dappered.com

 

Dear Beth,

I am a guy that likes to read. Hard news, blogs, books, and I also watch a bit of cable news. What’s going on in the world from a political perspective just interests me. My question for you is: are there any topics to completely stay away from during small talk? I’m not an idiot and I realize that the best line to use on a nice young lady probably isn’t  “Hi, I’m Deric, what are your thoughts on home mortgage deductions or Medicare solvency?” But after a little bit of light conversation and each of us pretending we give a shit about what the other one does for a living, I like to test the waters in the deep end a little bit. Are there any absolute no-no’s that a guy should steer clear of? (Besides, “oh by the way, I don’t believe in God.”)

- Deric

 

Hi Deric,

I’m going to do a little read on your personality from the email you sent me. So indulge me for a moment, will you? I suspect that you are smart, highly critical (of yourself and of others), intense, and a bit arrogant. You hate small talk and schmoozing. You don’t suffer fools (or at least people you perceive to be fools), so you are impatient, and probably come off as cold to people who don’t know you well. I also suspect that you’d agree with that reading, so I’m not telling you anything new about yourself, nor am I offending you by calling you out on some of those less desirable qualities.

But here’s the deal. You have to master the art of small talk and schmoozing. You have to get comfortable with it. It might also be a good idea to figure out how to “give a shit” about what the other person does for a living. Or, you know, their family and friends, their hobbies, their background, all of that “light” stuff. Here’s why. MOST people can do small talk, and MOST people expect it when first getting to know someone. That’s how we are socialized in this era, and in this country. I appreciate you wanting to get right the heart of important topics that matter to you; I think that’s a refreshing approach. But I think you risk putting off potential matches with your intensity. It’s possible that you’ll meet someone exactly like you, who wants to do the same thing, and you’ll skip off towards forever after, and you’ll never have to compromise on this issue. But most of us don’t end up with a person exactly like us. (And can I say, thank God? I wouldn’t want to be with the male version of me.)

Practice filling a silent moment with non-relevant conversation.

Why am I telling you all this instead of giving you a list of topics to avoid? Because first meetings are typically not a time for heavy hitting. You have plenty of time to discuss North Korea, the future of social security, and Governor Christie’s potential as a 2016 presidential candidate. Relationships and dating should take time, during which you can gradually explore topics that are important to you. You don’t need to know what you definitively think of someone by the end of the first introduction, or even first date. Also? ANYTHING could be off-putting…because you have no idea who you’re talking to! For instance, I am not particularly bothered by conversations about God or religion. I’m open to hearing what you have to say, and also to sharing my beliefs. My sister, however, dated someone who turned out to be involved in a cult-like religion, which was a scarring experience for her, so the first mention of religion and she’s looking for the exit, no second chances. Depending on who you’re talking to, any number of topics, as first meeting fodder, could be a bad idea. Which is why you should get to know about her job, her family and friends, her hobbies, and her background, before asking for a summary of her thoughts on gun control.

Alright young man, now go brush up on phraseology like “What about this weather, eh?” and “Are you originally from around here?”

-Beth

Got a question for Beth? Send it to: askawoman@dappered.com