I'm posting this only because I know from having spoken to some of you, there are a few among you who need these tips. For everyone else, let's go ahead and mock accordingly.
This article appeared on LinkedIn and wants to help you learn how to make small talk if you're really at a loss. Let's see what we should do (article suggestions in bold, our comments in italics).
Comment on a topic common to both of you at the moment
Oh, you mean like the fact that social situations sometimes give me really bad gas? "It's really great to meet you, did that prime rib make you have to shit too or WHAT?! Dang." You can't lose with this one because in my experience, 75% of attendees at any given professional social event are really just holding in a big one. This number can rise to 99% depending on what snacks are served and if there is alcohol.
Comment on a topic of general interest
You know, like the IRS scandal or dead stray dogs in Sochi or Obama's birth certificate. Whatever people are talking about, that's what you should talk about. I know, it seems so simple it's a wonder human beings didn't figure this out back when our communication was limited to a lot of grunting and pointing. Hey, how about that Ice Age huh?
Ask a question that people can answer as they please
"How do you feel about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?" is a good one, everyone's got an opinion about that. Although you might want to substitute "our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" because some people might find that offensive and God forbid — sorry, "Non-denominational Higher Power forbid" — we offend anyone. So maybe just ask people when you meet them if they are saved and go from there, it's bound to get the conversation rolling.
Ask open questions that can’t be answered with a single word
Remember, this one is tough if you're in a roomful of people just as awkward and socially inept as you. This is where it helps to cover really controversial topics to get people going.
This one is my favorite out of the entire article:
Ask getting-to-know-you questions. “What internet sites do you visit regularly?" "What vacation spot would you recommend?” These questions often reveal a hidden passion, which can make for great conversation.
I would be horrified if someone asked me what Internet sites I visit regularly. Not only because that is a stupid question (I mean really? Internet sites? What is this, 1998?) but because it is no one's business. I don't want casual contacts knowing I spend half my life on the Daily Mail and the other half… well… I'm not even going to say.
Listen, we could all use a lesson in how to be better communicators, but if you seriously don't know how to have a casual, 2 minute conversation with a stranger, no amount of LinkedIn articles on the subject are going to help you. Start by having a conversation with yourself in the mirror, then work your way up to talking to the cashier at the grocery store and from there, you might be ready to get involved in a good Twitter flame war or Daily Mail comment section troll-a-thon. From there, you'll be chatting up partners about their mistresses and religious views in no time!
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