We’re not mind-readers – we’re not soothsayers, but I think we’ve all been around long enough to know that…9-times out of 10, the outcome of a conversation is blatantly obvious right after the opening line.
“Where you from?” asks the guy in 23-C, right as you sit down after loading your carry-on in the overhead. Well, I guess you can forget that 3-and-a-half hour nap you were anticipating…as you settle-in to reluctantly hear the entire life-story of a complete stranger.
We’ve all heard this one at work: “Are you busy?” Uggg…translation: “Listen, I know like usual, you’re very busy – but I need you to drop everything you’re doing right now to work on MY problem; and yes, there are 15 other people who have far more time to handle this situation – but their work ethic and professionalism pales in comparison to yours. Oh, and I need you to do this because – even though I have a title and earn twice your scale – I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”
Just heard this one from my buddy, Neighbor Tim – and you know, I get this one a lot…Out of the blue, he said: “You have a strong stomach, right?” Quite honestly, a six word conversation starter no one ever wants to hear – because whether your reply is “yes” or “no”…at the very LEAST, you’ll have to HEAR about something disgusting.
So I said yes – and just finished dumping Timmy’s water-logged burn-barrel with a week-old drowned-squirrel inside. Knew it was coming, simply based on how the conversation started – but hey, that’s what friends are for.
Here’s a terrible conversation starter: “Would you like to know what a week-old drowned squirrel smells like?”
Husbands are all too-aware of some classic dreaded conversation starters…
– Like: “So…do you notice anything different about me?” (That one never works out)
– Or “You know what today is, right?” (Yep, another day where you’re about to highlight my ignorant insensitivity and neglect)
– Or: “Seriously?” (That conversation starter usually happens over dinner when my wife looks up after three bites, to see me sitting back in my chair, patting my stomach contemplating seconds)…
I guess the point is…as humans, we’re all very predictable. But that’s fine – it just makes the other 10% of conversations – when it DOESN’T go as expected – that much more interesting, enriching and entertaining. Nothing beats the pleasant surprise…of the unexpected.