The other day I was at an event and within the span of twenty minutes I was asked about a dozen times about my personal life. Who was I dating? Have I been going on a lot of dates? Etc. And in that same span of time I was asked two times about my work and one time about any other interests. Dude. Really. Is the most interesting thing about me who I may be dating? I assure you, even if I was dating Zac Efron (which sadly I am not….yet), there are a lot of way more interesting things about me than my dating life.
I know that people are asking because they are trying to make conversation. And I do appreciate the effort. I also know that in our culture it is totally fair game for aspects of what should be our private lives (dating, pregnancy, how many kids you plan to have and when) to be small talk conversation topics towards women. A number of years ago when I was at a Halloween Party with my then boyfriend of five years and the only questions I was asked all night was if I knew when he was going to propose I realized how broken small talk is in our culture. Man was I PISSED that night. It was a sore topic for me to begin with and when we got in the car to drive home and he was asking why I was in a foul mood I asked him how many times he was asked that evening when he was going to propose. And you know what, not ONE person asked him. Not one. But a few dozen asked me. Shock. Not. It’s totally ok to ask a woman about her personal business in casual conversation but not that same for men. That night I made the conscious choice to change my conversations with people. I no longer ask women in casual conversation about their private matters. I instead ask about THEM. If they bring it up, I’ll go there, but I will NOT be the one to bring it up in casual small talk.
I challenge you to change the topic of conversation from what should be our private lives and instead to be actually about us. Here are a few topic starters that have nothing to do with your personal life to try out in your next small talk encounter:
- What is the last good book you read?
- What is a book you think everyone should read and why?
- What is something you’re proud you did this week?
- When is the last time you did something that scared you?
- What is a hobby you love?
- Where do you want to go on your next vacation?
- What is something you’re really excited about at work?