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Seeking a valid topic of conversation

Events over the weekend got me thinking about dating.

I have been on one date in my entire life, and I would not count it as being anything remotely resembling successful.

I was thinking over it, and I realised why I have so much trouble talking to people I don't know. I don't have anything to talk about. While as a geek I tend to know a bit of everything, the only things I can really talk about in any form of depth is work and roleplaying. They are really the only things I have any real familiarity with.

I don't follow any sports, I don't care about celebrities, I read the news but don't look at it in much depth, I don't watch TV or movies, and most of my music is stuff that I've liked for a while, so I have no idea of much of the newer stuff. So, my choices are talk about work (which would make me look like a work-a-holic, and is probably as boring a bat-shit) or roleplaying, and that ain't going to work unless I happen to be talking to another roleplayer (and to be honest, I really don't think I want to have most of the discussion talking about "my character").

I really need to get involved in a socially acceptable hobby that can be used as a topic of conversation. As I get to know someone, I'm better at talking with them, but even so, most of my conversations are limited to work, roleplaying, or other mutual friends. What else can I talk about?

So, does anyone have any suggestions on how to feel comfortable talking to strangers, especially with my limited knowledge base?

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( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
shavedguerilla
Feb. 17th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
I think part of the problem you have dealing with strangers is that you don't realise that you're made of win, smothered in awesomesauce. As for hobby, do you think you'd enjoy a book club?
rantinan
Feb. 17th, 2010 04:32 am (UTC)
Fucked if i know.
Ya could always follow my method. Find pervert on internets, discuss perverted and nerdy things, don't bother with anything else.
pooklaroux
Feb. 17th, 2010 04:33 am (UTC)
Friends tell me I am good at small talk/flirting. If there is a secret, it is stupid simple: ask questions. Just ask open ended questions. People really like to talk about themselves. Most of the time, if you need to be self-revelatory, it is simple, like "Oh, I like coffee, too!" I wouldn't necessarily think you need to pick up a new hobby to be more interesting. In order to open a conversation with anyone, I just ask a question. I can look at anyone and think of a few questions to ask them.
irishmark
Feb. 17th, 2010 04:38 am (UTC)
I'm going to second the ask questions idea. Might be easier if you develop a repertoire of common, innocuous questions to use as conversation starters.
That said, I'm in the same boat when it comes to conversations. I sometimes wonder why is it that the things I'm interested in are the things that other people don't care about.
omegamorningsta
Feb. 17th, 2010 04:42 am (UTC)
You're always welcome to come play with the steampunks.. they are pretty and nerd-friendly :)

teknohippi
Feb. 17th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
Yep if you are really interested in getting to know someone ask them about themselves. Driving a converstaion that way can be very rewarding and you can pick up points that interest you that they mention and follow them
miss_rynn
Feb. 17th, 2010 05:03 am (UTC)
When in doubt, ask questions about them, then follow up questions. It shows that you're interested and that you pay attention, but also most people's favourite topic of conversation is about themselves.
msss
Feb. 17th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
Oh, that's an interesting question. I'm not all that fond of small talk, but it's a necessary skill.

I find that I can push a conversation by asking people about themselves, where they work, what hobbies they have, how they spent the weekend/Xmas holidays. It's hard work with some people though. Usually you can follow the thread of what they said, e.g. if they went to the beach, you can say "Was it very hot there?" or "Do you go there often?" or "Did you enjoy it?" and so on. The other advantage of this technique is that you find out about them, which is a topic most people enjoy, and then if you can drag a tiny bit of information that they told you out at your next conversation, they're happy that you care.

Similarly, I can waffle on about how EXCITING my new Chinese classes are, Chinese New Year, my recent gardening efforts, and my thoughts on recent news events.

With a date though, don't you want someone who shares your interests?
ozisim
Feb. 17th, 2010 05:22 am (UTC)
Superficial answer is to let them talk about themselves... You learn stuff, and they feel smart.

Seriously though... There are lots of things that you can talk about that are't roleplaying or work:
Being Owned by Cats
Avenue Q*
Differences between living in Melbourne and Brisbane
How awesome Sim is
Sushi
Hawaiian surfing movies of the 1960s.


*leads into the internet is not only for porn, you know...
paradigmshifty
Feb. 17th, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
I've had the "How awesome Sim is" conversation. And no, I won't say with who :-)
ozisim
Feb. 22nd, 2010 10:26 am (UTC)
*raises eyebrow*
Now you gone and poked my curious!
paradigmshifty
Feb. 26th, 2010 08:26 am (UTC)
You shall have to remain unsatisfied then :-)
kitling
Feb. 17th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
Me, I like conversation to be relevant. Yes, I'm fluent in geek, but I prefer to talk about history, or politics or the environment. Also - I get really irritated talking to people who think they are smart when they are not, one gets a lot more respect for admitting they are interested in a subject and not an expert.

That said being an expert in a subject also means the conversation can get boring quickly unless you are talking to people on the same level of education.

But yeah - the secret to small talk - is be a good listener and ask questions. Be polite, don't make fun of people or be unnecessarily rude, or treat the waiter like crap. Talk about stuff you like and be aware of when you are talking to much. And always be ready to learn about new stuff.
greenglowgrrl
Feb. 17th, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
Yep, its a truism that the person one remembers as interesting at a party is the one that made the conversation all about you!

And yes, you can google "interesting question to ask on a date" and the internet will help.

Here's just one.
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/interesting-questions-to-ask.html

Reading all the pages can be your new hobby.
aeduna
Feb. 17th, 2010 07:07 am (UTC)
Dancing? Like classes I mean?
You sort of want a social hobby by the sounds of it, something that you can mention you do, or maybe even meet people through?
Sports? something like rockclimbing maybe rather than competitive team sports?
fluffworld
Feb. 17th, 2010 07:33 am (UTC)
As people have said, don't worry about what you are going to say, ask them questions! People are often fascinating once you get them nerding out on their interests, and you would be amazed how often they'll coincide with yours.
That said, books/graphic novels you like is a good place to start. If they don't like to read, they are clearly a bad person. :p
towkarn
Feb. 18th, 2010 10:16 am (UTC)
Hear hear!
missingkeys
Feb. 17th, 2010 08:17 am (UTC)
You have a tv tag. :p

Funny stories about pets generally go down well. Or even stories about pets doing things they oughtn't. Some people don't like pet stories, but I don't much care for people who don't like animals which means it's a nice way to filter out who I mightn't like. nb. Too many pet stories is also a bad thing. I once endured three hours of cat stories from a girl I was very much no longer interested in. Especially since she started repeating stories from when she was nine. Keep things recent! And fairly brief!

I read in the free paper that people who go to industry nights are very interesting and that you learn a lot at them. Alas I'm so boring I don't even know what an industry night is, but if you do it might be worth a shot. :)

For some reason I talk a lot at work about cars. I don't know how this even happens, but people seem to appreciate it when I ask questions about how many cylinders they have and what their fuel economy is like. So, based on that, I'm going to second the other people who said that asking questions is good. I've even learned a few things (well, a couple).

Good luck! :)
gothtigger
Feb. 17th, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
Hey honey,

The point of going out on a date is not to talk about you, its to find out about them. The point of a date is "Do I want to spend more time with this person? Do I want a relationship with this person?"

That is why asking open-ended questions is useful. If you can hit on a topic that they rave about that you find fascinating then you have the basis for a second date.

I find I must like my dates as friends and companions before anything further develops. But that's just me - not indicative of everybody.
kayjay1970
Feb. 17th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
The real answer though is that there is no magic formula. You can't reach into your 'manbag' and pull out interesting conversation topic 'A' to see how it runs...
Open ended questions and then follow up with bits from your life that are relevant to their answers.
persephone_20
Feb. 17th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Possibly take a short course in something you are interested in. Arts, history, politics, etc. Short courses are fun to talk about.

But i'm a student, so maybe it's just interesting to me.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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Desert Rose

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in vain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

I dream of fire
Those dreams are tied to a horse that will never tire
And in the flames
Her shadows play in the shape of a man's desire

This desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this

And as she turns
This way she moves in the logic of all my dreams
This fire burns
I realize that nothing's as it seems

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in vain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

I dream of rain
I lift my gaze to empty skies above
I close my eyes
This rare perfume is the sweet intoxication of her love

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in vain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

Sweet desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this

Sweet desert rose
This memory of Eden haunts us all
This desert flower
This rare perfume, is the sweet intoxication of the fall

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