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#1 CallMeFeral

Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:30 PM

So.
I feel like as I get older, I'm getting less tolerant. And this seems to include, in social situations, annoying conversations. Where I used to just listen to people gasbagging and talking bullsh*t and just tolerate it, I now can't be a*sed being audience to nonsense and feel like walking away, playing on my phone, going to read a book if possible, etc. I'm not sure if it's that some of my friends have become more full of sh*t or that I have less patience for people who don't engage genuinely (e.g. just spewing out whatever their political point says is clever), but I just can't stand being around it anymore.
But this is making social occasions with people I'm not close to (e.g. kid functions or DH's friends) quite a trial. And the problem is, I know there are people there who are very smart and interesting people (sometimes because I've met them before and been really interested in the way they think), but I just don't know how to open up the sort of conversations that show this. I only know how to introduce smalltalk, which is boring for everyone and after you see people a couple of times you can't really ask what they do for a living and how many kids they have.

So... how does one open up actual INTERESTING conversation topics? The ones that really get into a person's thoughts/beliefs/experiences/philosophies on life? I remember as a teen hating family parties except for one where some middle aged relative started up about various scientific/philosophical theories, and I remember loving it and feeling mentally stimulated for the first time at a party. Probably if I heard him now I'd think he was a gasbag, but he'd probably still be more interesting than the others. But others at the function thought he was a bit mad. I think I would consider developing a 'mad' reputation if it meant having more meaningful conversations, but I still don't exactly know how to go about starting them.

Any ideas?

#2 MooGuru

Posted 13 January 2020 - 11:49 PM

I've had some very interesting conversations around "if you were an animal, what would you be?"
Especially in a group it has often started quite a back and forth as people think of different animals and analyse why they've chosen said animal.
Eta. I know that sounds silly but it's because it seems like harmless fun people often play along and then depending on the group you can end up getting quite deep and meaningful. Especially if there's someone who's had too many wines and suddenly realises she thought her and her husband were sea otters because they are cute, stick together and hold hands but they also club baby seals and rape them then bursts into tears because she doesn't want to club baby seals.

Edited by MooGuru, 13 January 2020 - 11:56 PM.


#3 Ellie bean

Posted 13 January 2020 - 11:59 PM

This won’t be helpful but please please tell me I don’t now have to try and be interesting at kid functions. I thought being pleasant and bland and not getting anyone offside and thereby accidentally destroying my kids friendships was sufficient and already a big enough ask...

#4 Riotproof

Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:04 AM

View PostEllie bean, on 13 January 2020 - 11:59 PM, said:

This won’t be helpful but please please tell me I don’t now have to try and be interesting at kid functions. I thought being pleasant and bland and not getting anyone offside and thereby accidentally destroying my kids friendships was sufficient and already a big enough ask...

I think so. I think my face says it all most of the time.

#5 IamzFeralz

Posted 14 January 2020 - 05:48 AM

CMF I think the times have changed, I don’t think it’s just you getting less patient as you get older. Not so long ago people were more careful about what they said and possibly genuinely believed it too.  It was also possible to have healthy debate too because it was almost universally agreed that being polite was a good thing.  Now it’s fashionable to maintain that unproven “opinions” have equal weight and be overtly rude about particular groups.  

I don’t know what to suggest because those opinions aren’t just harmlessly academic either. They hurt the environment, vulnerable people etc. It’s difficult to divert to another less inflammatory topic and maintain a healthy respect.  I would personally carry on walking away and burying your head into a book.  But I miss the old days when you could have a good polite debate and come away feeling you learned things, even if you didn’t agree.

#6 No Drama Please

Posted 14 January 2020 - 06:33 AM

I normally wait for an opening. People sometimes give you tiny clues they were about to say something interesting or unusual but then they hesitate in case they look weird or controversial.

That’s where I take my queue to pounce. So I say “omg exactly or great idea!” Then they tend to look relieved and expand from there. If they stay silent after you’ve encouraged them you have to go back to casual conversation though! But if not  you can single them out for further conversations.

I don’t wait for the ideal time and place either, I’ve had pretty interesting conversations in tea rooms, printing rooms, waiting for lifts and even in the bathroom. You have to let them talk first though! Otherwise you’ll always be the crazy intense talking lady :lol:

#7 Lifesgood

Posted 14 January 2020 - 06:42 AM

Play a game of ten questions. Ask someone who you think might be interesting to talk to a question on a topic that interests you and that you suspect might interest them. Then ask another after they answer the first one - preferably related in some way to the first question. Keep going until you have asked ten questions - you probably won’t ever get to ten questions because the conversation will either evolve into a back and forth discussion or die before then.

Mind you, it takes a lot of energy and effort and I often can’t be bothered!

#8 Fi Fy Festive Fo

Posted 14 January 2020 - 06:49 AM

My fave question at the moment is "what are you passionate about right now?" Way better thab what do you do for a living and opens them up to talk about what they love. Conversations are way more interesting when the people in them really care about the topic

#9 Mmmcheese

Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:04 AM

My partner is very good at asking questions to get people talking about something they are interested in. I tend to listen for 'my turn to talk' whereas he asks questions to find out more about what they are interested in.

#10 AnythingGoes

Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:39 AM

I've found getting on to the topic of what podcasts people listen to can then open up interesting conversations.

#11 redsocks

Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:57 AM

I am finding this challenging too- particularly as I am interested in current events here and overseas and some groups of my friends are not. I spent a weekend away with old uni friends last year and after exhausting all the kids, partners, renovations and work talk, there were not many safe conversation topics remaining. I felt like a fraud not talking about politics, but if I had it would’ve been uncomfortable for others.
In social situations where I don’t know anyone well, I’ll ask what they’re reading or if they can recommend movies- it’s small talk but can sometimes can lead to common interests and interesting debate

#12 ~Jolly_F~

Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:58 AM

View PostEllie bean, on 13 January 2020 - 11:59 PM, said:

This won’t be helpful but please please tell me I don’t now have to try and be interesting at kid functions. I thought being pleasant and bland and not getting anyone offside and thereby accidentally destroying my kids friendships was sufficient and already a big enough ask...

Same, when I am out in that kind of environment I am not there to be quizzed to give someone more interesting conversation. I am busy trying to stay one step ahead of my kid, so a meltdown doesn’t occur when it all becomes too much. I might seem like I am doing nothing much but in my head constantly talking through what’s going on for her.

Plus as an overthinker if you started grilling me with weird outside the norm questions, I would be like wtf is going on here and it would play on my mind for days.

You need to find the right people that want to have your interesting conversations with, that is not going to happen at every event and with every person and that’s ok. It’s not ok to judge them for it though, who knows why they can’t give you what you want in a conversation.

#13 seayork2002

Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:18 AM

Thanks to this forum I have has discussions with people at my son's school over the years but I go in with the mindset of it is not a war of who has the most correct viewpoint, I try and not limit myself to one or two people constantly at events

Going to a lot of baby groups when DS was little means I am now an expert on small talk which is sometimes all I want

Edited by seayork2002, 14 January 2020 - 08:18 AM.


#14 BungyBaby

Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:21 AM

I both found confronting and really interesting when after the usual intro's an artistic friend said "So what have you created lately?". She then went on to say how she has been into some type of cake and made that, so basically confronted me then bought me back to a normal human level of experience.

I had created a new vegie garden not long beforehand so that was my response. Best thing is kids will tell you lots of really cool stuff when asked the same.

#15 Kreme

Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:26 AM

I agree that podcasts are a great discussion starter. Especially as you can recount the evidence that was discussed in the podcast so it’s less opinion based and more factual. That’s helpful in a setting where you can tell lots of people are sitting on the opposite side of the political fence to you.

It seems to be rare these days to meet anyone who genuinely wants to discuss issues rather than just convince you that they’re right.

#16 #notallcats

Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:07 AM

So by interesting, you mean to you?  Because it sounds like your friends are talking, you just don't like what they are saying?  Isn't that when you get into a debate and gets interesting?

#17 Gudrun

Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:19 AM

I'm with No Drama Please.  Listen for the 'ins'.

#18 PoolsideMasterchef

Posted 14 January 2020 - 10:48 AM

Silly question OP but are you tired?   I struggle to make interesting conversation when Im tired.  My brain just doesnt work as fast.

I find if I get out and do interesting things and pay attention to local news / events that helps as well. Especially sports.

#19 Jane Jinglebells

Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:18 PM

View PostCallMeFeral, on 13 January 2020 - 10:30 PM, said:


So... how does one open up actual INTERESTING conversation topics? The ones that really get into a person's thoughts/beliefs/experiences/philosophies on life?

Unless I know someone really well, I'm online here, or it happens naturally and doesn't go on too long and there aren't massive disagreements, the last thing I want is someone - particularly at a kid event - trying to get me to tell them my beliefs/experiences etc. That's private, leave off!

Occasionally I'll have a nice and brief chat with someone, but IRL it usually involves agreeing with them, and the conversation flow happening naturally. For example when the plumber was out last week replacing the hot water and when DH and I asked if he was okay working outside all the time in the smoke, the conversation quickly devolved into a short but gleeful hate-session on Scomo, how useless the Liberal fire response has been, and then the undermining of working conditions. That was a five-minute chat but pleasant because we all agreed (the guy really knew his old-school Labor facts too).

"Tell me your favourite animal" or coming armed with 10 questions is not letting it happen naturally, and is weird and intrusive. Particularly as the person being asked the weird job-interview questions has no idea if you're about to sell them Jesus, MLM or anti-vaxxing; and particularly given that my opinions are strongly held and given the feminist socialism and all, not necessarily what they'd be bargaining for.

Also, what is "talking bullsh*t"? Are we talking celeb talk, or do you mean stuff you don't agree with?

#20 steppy

Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:19 PM

I find it harder and harder now because so many people can't talk for the sake of talking about something anymore. It all seems to devolve into posturing.

The last semi interesting conversation I had was about favourite lecturers at Uni and why and part of it seriously went:

Person A: Mine was my English Lit, lecturer, of course. (From a person known for their love of literature)
Person B: Why 'of course'? English Lit is so white privilege. I bet you studied a whole bunch of boring old white men.

Person A was actually forced to mumble that women and people of colour were also represented but that it was, after all, ENGLISH literature they studied. This was still viewed as being too English. Not interesting. Would rather have heard why the lecturer was great.

Edited by steppy, 14 January 2020 - 12:25 PM.


#21 MsLaurie

Posted 14 January 2020 - 12:26 PM

I managed to get out of the job/kids/house loop at a school reunion recently by saying “what is something you really love doing that other people don’t really get?”. We ended up in a really interesting conversation about things we were genuinely into.

#22 MooGuru

Posted 14 January 2020 - 01:13 PM

View PostJane Jinglebells, on 14 January 2020 - 12:18 PM, said:

...
"Tell me your favourite animal" or coming armed with 10 questions is not letting it happen naturally, and is weird and intrusive. Particularly as the person being asked the weird job-interview questions has no idea if you're about to sell them Jesus, MLM or anti-vaxxing; and particularly given that my opinions are strongly held and given the feminist socialism and all, not necessarily what they'd be bargaining for.

Also, what is "talking bullsh*t"? Are we talking celeb talk, or do you mean stuff you don't agree with?

You obviously don't go in "Hi, how are you? Tell me your favourite animal."
Whenever it's come up, the first time a friend had been at a job interview and was asked about it so raised it as a what would you say?"
Next time: "Sorry,  I'm really distracted. I got asked what animal I'd be earlier and am still thinking about it. I feel like when I was 5 I could've answered it straight away. *points at child* DD said unicorn straight off the bat with reasons that made sense and I can't even decide! Don't suppose you feel like talking about spirit animals?"Etc, etc.
I've seen my friend bring it up half a dozen times in a conversational way and it's almost always started a conversation.
It's fine to say don't have questions prepared  let it happen naturally but if there is a natural lull, having questions prepared could help someone feel more confident to step in and say something rather than feeling awkward.

Edited because there were no spaces

Edited by MooGuru, 14 January 2020 - 02:18 PM.


#23 newmumandexcited

Posted 14 January 2020 - 01:16 PM

Oh god. These starts feel really artificial to me frankly - I’d seize up at the weirdness of being asked these random questions, but the weirdness is likely all my own.

At kids things, I don’t want to talk about this stuff though - it’s the topical questions of five drinks. So don’t be surprised if people like me do a bit of a wtf face and bail with social anxiety.

Edited by newmumandexcited, 14 January 2020 - 01:53 PM.


#24 CallMeFeral

Posted 14 January 2020 - 01:54 PM

View PostEllie bean, on 13 January 2020 - 11:59 PM, said:

This won’t be helpful but please please tell me I don’t now have to try and be interesting at kid functions. I thought being pleasant and bland and not getting anyone offside and thereby accidentally destroying my kids friendships was sufficient and already a big enough ask...

It sounds from this post like you've taken my post as some sort of judgement against people who make pleasant and bland smalltalk. I don't judge pleasant and bland smalltalk - in fact the point of my post is that that's all I really know how to do. But I am aware that it bores me, and probably bores the person I'm talking with as well, so I'm looking for ideas as to how to step out of that box.
The judgement however on people who talk bullsh*t and don't engage genuinely, however, is real. I feel like I know a lot more people than I used to who have become right wing, closed minded, and spew off the right wing tag lines with no apparent thought, a la "the fires are caused by arsonists not climate change". Honestly I can't be bothered to engage with that bullsh*t. But there were other people at that particular party who I was aware from previous meetings were NOT right wing mouthpieces and were actual thoughtful and insightful people - but I had no way to tap into a meaningful conversation with them because all I knew how to do was smalltalk.
If people want to stick to smalltalk, obviously that's their prerogative. But some might be like me, and be hungry for something more interesting. I know that I hear many people complain about smalltalk being dull, so I'm not alone. But I don't know how to find and engage with the people who share that desire with me.

#25 Jane Jinglebells

Posted 14 January 2020 - 02:04 PM

Sorry MooGuru, it still feels weird and contrived. There's only so long you can drag one job interview into conversations anyway.

(Also if you tried that on me IRL I'll probably just whinge about how silly job interview questions are, haha)

View PostCallMeFeral, on 14 January 2020 - 01:54 PM, said:


The judgement however on people who talk bullsh*t and don't engage genuinely, however, is real. I feel like I know a lot more people than I used to who have become right wing, closed minded, and spew off the right wing tag lines with no apparent thought, a la "the fires are caused by arsonists not climate change". Honestly I can't be bothered to engage with that bullsh*t.

Oh yeah. That's total bullsh*t all right then.




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