The Participation Blog

Get Me Outta Here!

In previous issues, we’ve talked about the power and benefits of making informal conversation – small talk, chitchat – with people and various stakeholders prior to the meaty conversations that you’re likely going to have. Small talk breaks the ice a little, greases the wheels, starts to build a tiny but important relationship and just lubricates the subsequent meatier conversation. As a professionally extroverted introvert (a trait that many of us may share and a term that I think I coined), I’m not a big fan of small talk – I frequently find it painful, but I find it clearly useful. Past issues of this little newsletter have discussed the benefits of these conversations and how to initiate them. But before now, we’ve never addressed how to end those conversations. You see where this is going? So, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself at a purely social affair, knowing almost no one, and practicing the aforementioned small talk with various people. And it was all going fine until I encountered …”that guy.” I know you know who I’m talking about. That guy who had a verryy loonngg answer to the question, “So, what brings you here?” His speech started at about the womb and proceeded from there. By the time he had reached fourth grade, I was thinking about how to fake a mild coronary. I did finally manage to extricate myself, but this next piece sure would have come in handy.