I’m an engineer in my mid-20’s, just moved to a new city, and am looking to meet new people. Hopefully, some of them will be women. My conversations with women have an odd twist to them and usually come in two distinct forms. I either ask about the proverbial weather for 30 min, get bored then leave to find someone else to talk to, or I give small talk for 10 min, then somehow manage to drop a bomb and ask a super personal question along the lines of “So what about your daddy issues?”
Granted my use of hyperbole is just that, I am not that insensitive, but as you may guess this doesn’t often end well.
When dealing with close friends or family this is nice because we have meaningful conversations often, but with women I just met it usually closes the door to further relationship building platonic or otherwise. Do you have any tips for bridging that gap between the initial, “hi, how are ya” and deep conversations that only happen between close friends?
I totally understand hating small talk. It’s boring, it’s useless, it’s forgettable. But here’s something I learned early in my marriage when I was forced to frequently hobnob with strangers because of my husband’s job. Small talk can be valuable, and it can get you to those more meaningful conversations, even with people you don’t know well.
The trick is listening well, and using those small talk topics as a bridge to topics of a more personal nature. Example:
Her: This weather is just awful. I hate the cold!
You: You know, I don’t mind it that much, but I guess that’s because I grew up around here so I’m used to it. Are you from somewhere else?
After establishing where she’s from, you could easily ask follow up questions that might reveal more about who she is–what was it like to grow up in ____? How often does she get back there? Does she still have family there? Who is her family–parents, siblings? Is she close to them?
You want to ask good follow-up questions and care about the answers. And at any time, if you really connect to something she’s saying, offer your own opinions or experiences. If she used to be close to a brother when they were kids but they’ve drifted away as adults, and that’s similar to what you know, tell her about it. If she’s a courteous, generous, and interested (in you) person, she’ll ask her own questions of you.
Although these types of conversations are much more rewarding than surface chatter, you probably won’t get into as deep a conversation as you have with close friends, because…well, this person isn’t your close friend. And that’s appropriate. People are usually only willing to divulge intimate information with someone they trust. You have to earn that trust, and then build a relationship with someone in order to have those really intense discussions. This is good, this is why we treasure our really close friendships. Because we can’t have them with just anyone.
Try to be patient as you’re meeting people and getting to know them. You’ll find those connections but it does take effort and time.
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