By Sam Blend
So you’re walking around campus when suddenly, you see somebody that isn’t really your favorite person walking toward you. You’re probably thinking, “CRAP. (Insert name here) is headed in my direction … they definitely see me… Wait! Maybe they don’t … I think my sunglasses will throw them off … Oh, nope. They definitely do. And now they’re walking over.”
Sometimes it’s hard to hide your distaste for a person. Sometimes you don’t want to divulge too much information about yourself to them because you’re not quite sure what they might do with it. Sometimes you’re talking to somebody and realize that you disagree with almost every opinion that they have.
Well, don’t fret because Jerry Seinfeld, channeling his idol Superman, saves us from uncomfortable situations such as this with his advice:
“The only way to get through talking with people that you don’t really have anything in common with is to pretend you’re hosting your own little talk show. This is what I do. You pretend there’s a little desk around you.”
At first the idea may sound completely ridiculous, but it works. Trust me, I do this all the time.
It can be used in all kinds of situations, like if you’re talking to:
1) Somebody you don’t like
2) Somebody you don’t know anything about
3) Somebody you don’t have anything in common with
4) Somebody you’ve just met
5) Somebody you want to know everything about (you run the risk of being a creep with this one)
Why do I swear by this tactic? Because one of people’s top-five favorite subjects to talk about is themselves. I’m not trying to say that the whole world is self-absorbed and annoying. But people want to show that they know what they’re talking about, and isn’t something we know the most about in fact our own selves? Or maybe the person has some really fantastic news or a fascinating life.
It’s just that so many times we, as human beings, get so caught up in the whirlwind of what we’ve been doing, what we’ve got going on, our latest success, that when somebody keeps asking questions about all these things, we have a lot to say.
So whether you’re trying to keep yourself entertained during a dull conversation or you are trying to keep the conversation going with an awesome new person you just met, set the scene. Picture yourself and the other person in a studio: They’re sitting on a couch, and you’re sitting behind a desk, with a microphone in front of you. You just took a sip of some water, and now you’re ready to start asking them questions about themselves.
What’s your major? What do you want to do with it? Have you been to any concerts lately? Did you see Jennifer Lawrence fall at the Oscars? Do you think those goat videos on YouTube are hilarious or what?
If you don’t want to be in a conversation with them, you’ve probably given them enough material to keep them talking for a while so that you don’t have to. But you might run into a little problem at this point.
Like Jerry says: “The only problem with this is, there’s no way you can say, ‘Hey, it’s been great having you on the show. We’re out of time.’”
But there are ways you can then make a polite exit. Let the person know that it was nice talking to them, but you … really need to … study, get going or meet a friend who’s been waiting for you.
If you really are interested in getting to know the person, such questions will give you a good idea as to what kind of person they are and what their likes and dislikes are. Hopefully you find something that you have in common with them, and then the conversation will become much easier (if not, a polite exit would be totally acceptable).
So get on out there and try it out! Get creative with your questions and witness the magic of the talk show conversation method.
Samantha Blend is a second year English major and a blogger for O&B, writing about life lessons she has learned from Seinfeld. Her posts appear on Fridays.