No More Small Talk: 8 Questions to Spice up a Conversation


Small talk is officially out of control. I can’t remember the last time I met someone who didn’t ask, “So, where are you from?” followed quickly by, “Oh, what do you do for a living?,” followed quickly by end of conversation.

I’m pretty sure dogs are asking each other more interesting questions. In a best-case scenario, the person is from somewhere you’ve been, and you can go, “Oh you’re from Chicago, that’s a great city…pretty windy though right? Sucks about the Cubs huh? Bears are doing alright though. Oh, you don’t pay attention to sports? Well, what do you do for a living? Oh, you do that? Neat.” End of conversation.

We need to be asking better questions. Instead of, “Where are you from,” how about, “Who’s the most popular homeless person where you’re from?”

I grew up in Morgantown, where we had the “Yep-Yep man.” Yep-Yep man was a legend. He was a photographer but no one knew what he did with the pictures, and supposedly he inherited millions of dollars, although this could never be confirmed. Actually, I’m sure if asked, he would have said, “Yep.” Come to think of it, perhaps that’s how the rumor got started. He would show up all over town with a nice camera, going “Yep, yep, yep…no…oh no. Yep!”

See, now you know a fun fact, in addition to where I’m from – two birds, one stone. Instead of turning back to your cell phone, I’ve brainstormed eight “next level” questions to take your conversations to more interesting places. Feel free to answer, and/or come up with some of your own.

1) Do you pee in the shower, and if so what percentage of the time?

2) If you had a choice between marrying Oprah (for at least ten years), or having a one-night stand with Martha Stewart, which would you choose? I know, Martha Stewart would make a great breakfast right? But if you marry Oprah you’re a billionaire, and she’s gone all the time anyway doing photo shoots for the cover of her own magazine…

3) Which fictional creature would you be the least surprised by, if it suddenly showed up in the fossil record:
a) dragon
b) elf
c) centaur
d) troll
e) unicorn

4) You’re given a choice between six months to live, or being abducted by friendly aliens to a planet where you live for 10,000 years. The aliens occasionally perform non-invasive tests on you. You’re allowed to Skype back to Earth once a week, but that’s the extent of your human contact. So, six months until you die, or 10,000 years with friendly, but curious, aliens?

5) You’re offered 100 million dollars to cut off your best friend’s hand with a rusty axe. If you don’t do it, your friend’s house will burn down the following day, and he will be fired from his job. Would you cut off his hand, and if so, how much of the 100 million would you give to him? Keep in mind, you’re not allowed to discuss the options with your friend before hand (pun intended). You just have to be like, “I’m sorry to do this, but I promise this will work out for you!” and then chop, and then blood curdling screams.

6) You’re framed for murder. You can serve life in an American prison, or you can escape to Somalia and become a Somali pirate.

7) All of your memories will be completely erased, OR you can have new memories installed so that you remember everything about your life, but now you also believe you were the drummer for the Proclaimers. You won’t be able to stop recounting memories of touring with the Proclaimers, and everyone will think you’re insane (and annoying).

8. You discover that your perfect soul-mate exists, who you will find complete happiness with. However, this person happens to have chronic hiccups. As soon as you meet, instant love, but then every ten seconds they will have a violent hiccup, even in their sleep. Do you choose to meet your soul mate, or pass?

If you answer these questions truthfully, I guarantee I will have a much better understanding for who you are, than knowing where you’re from, and what you do for a living.

P.S. I had to put a period after number 8, because if I put a parentheses, it became a smiley face with sunglasses. Is having this 8) shortcut really helping anyone? And what does a smiley face with sunglasses even mean? “I’m happy, but I have an astigmatism that needs protection from the sun. So I’m really not that happy.”

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6 Responses to “No More Small Talk: 8 Questions to Spice up a Conversation”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joe Zimmerman, Karen Oelschlaeger. Karen Oelschlaeger said: RT @joezimmerman: Enough small talk: 8 questions to spice up your conversations – http://ping.fm/RnmsD […]

  2. These are great. The one I like to use is “If you absorbed someone’s power by eating them, who would you eat?”

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ty White and Joe Zimmerman, Jared McKiernan. Jared McKiernan said: RT @tywhite: I'm using these tonight! RT @joezimmerman: 8 questions to spice up your conversations: http://bit.ly/dy2Kfb […]

  4. No more small talk should be what voters should say to all politicians seeking political office.

    • Right on! 2012 election is coming up. Give them hell, Hugo! No More Small Talk. Demand that the candidates take positions on the important issues that concern us.

  5. I really wish I’d read this list before I visited my extended family over the weekend. They are the masters of small talk :|

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