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Lisa R.

How do you participate in conversations? Do you ask questions or simply answer?

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What is your conversing style with people you don't know well? Do you ask questions? Do you answer questions that are asked and then wait for another topic of conversation to be introduced? Do you feel like asking questions of someone you don't know well is intrusive so, out of politeness, you refrain from asking general questions?

 

I wonder about this. Oftentimes, I find that people will answer questions but most do not ask many questions. It makes conversation difficult. 

 

When this topic came up with my millennial young adult dd, she  said, "I don't ask questions with people I don't know and often even my friends. I find it intrusive." This is someone who is very outgoing, friendly and has lots of friends.

 

I used to think that people that only answered questions and didn't ask were just shy or uncomfortable or disinterested. Now, I'm wondering if it's a philosophy of "not wanting to pry". I honestly think it's part of good conversation to ask questions. Not nosy questions, of course, but just things that draw out the other person.

 

Do you ask and answer questions with someone you're just meeting in a social situation or even someone you know but don't know well? Or do you just answer questions?

 

 

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I just answer questions.  I have often thought that this is not a good way to make friends, but then I don't know what to ask.  If I asked anything it would feel forced and random. 

 

I dunno.  I kinda flunk in this department to be honest.  LOL

 

 

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When I meet new people, I often start the conversation by asking them a question. I mean, what is the alternative? Gushing about myself?

It all depends on the questions. There are questions I would not ask a person I just met because they would be intrusive and too personal. But then there are plenty of questions one can ask that are just god conversation starters and leave the other person plenty of choice how personal they want to get with their answer.

 

Typical way how a conversation with a  new person could go would be:

"Hi. I don't think we've met. I'm regentrude and know our host because we sing in choir together/I'm a colleague/we met through homeschooling/..."

Other person will introduce and perhaps ask a question which I can answer, or I might ask:

"What brings you to xyz town?" (because most people are not from here and come either for the university or the nearby military base)

Then one can segue into where everybody is from, introduced by where we're from - because, again, nobody is from here.

"What do you do?" People are free to talk about either their jobs or their parenting or writing books or their hobbies or whatever- they define what "do" means to them.

Then conversation starts to roll, and the ball bounces back and forth. I have never met anybody who would consider the above questions "intrusive" or prying. It does not get any more innocuous like that. But it offers the opportunity to talk about different places (where we are from), shared experiences )how we got here), what interests us (what we do), and then it just snowballs. 

 

 

Edited by regentrude
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I ask questions. "Conversation" to me implies back and forth, give and take. Both parties have to keep it going. But I'm much better at it now than I was when I was young.

 

That said, I have noticed that our boys and many young people nowadays don't seem to know as much about their friends as DH and I did when we were their age. They have so many "friends" on social media--a much wider network than DH or I could have dreamed of having at their ages--and yet they seem to not know a lot about even the ones they're close to IRL. Maybe it's the way things are nowadays?

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I was raised with the philosophy that the best way to get to know people is to ask questions. 

 

So, I ask questions but honestly sometimes I'd also like to be asked a few questions.  Sometimes I feel like I'm grilling people when they answer my questions - apparently happy to do so - but don't ask any in return.  For ex, I might ask someone who has a baby "do you have any other children?" And they will answer, but it seems like they'd ask in turn "how about you, do you have any kids?"  Maybe that doesn't seem like a safe topic?  But it should be, if I introduced it, right?  

 

I don't know how to start a conversation without asking questions. I mean, I can't think of any statements other than "nice weather we're having" or, more relevant to our recent weather "man it's too cold for me!"  I'm not going to launch into a monologue about myself.  So, it seems questions are the best way to go. Due to past threads here, I am more careful about certain questions.  But, I still ask.  

 

 

 

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taking notes.....

 

:laugh:

 

See I think this is where I go wrong.  Every friend I've had (and it takes a lot to call someone a friend) has been EXCESSIVELY extroverted.  Because they'd have to be.  Literally they'd have to be the sort of person who loves holding a gushy conversation with themselves where they can go on and on about themselves.  LOL 

 

Except on-line.  I can manage this better on-line.  I need time to respond. 

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What is your conversing style with people you don't know well? Do you ask questions? Do you answer questions that are asked and then wait for another topic of conversation to be introduced? Do you feel like asking questions of someone you don't know well is intrusive so, out of politeness, you refrain from asking general questions?

 

I wonder about this. Oftentimes, I find that people will answer questions but most do not ask many questions. It makes conversation difficult. 

 

When this topic came up with my millennial young adult dd, she  said, "I don't ask questions with people I don't know and often even my friends. I find it intrusive." This is someone who is very outgoing, friendly and has lots of friends.

 

I used to think that people that only answered questions and didn't ask were just shy or uncomfortable or disinterested. Now, I'm wondering if it's a philosophy of "not wanting to pry". I honestly think it's part of good conversation to ask questions. Not nosy questions, of course, but just things that draw out the other person.

 

Do you ask and answer questions with someone you're just meeting in a social situation or even someone you know but don't know well? Or do you just answer questions?

 

 

I asked questions.  I have to be careful to not ask too many.  

 

I remember one time my XH and I were at a company party where we didn't know many people and we sat down next to a couple and tried to start up a conversation.  We were young, no kids, and we asked them if they had kids. 'yes.'  Was the only thing they said.  And they diverted their eyes to not have to keep talking to us.  We found it so comical even at the time.  They obviously did not want to talk to us.  But in general people always want to talk about their kids or grandkids or where they used to live or how long they have lived here or what they do for a living.  

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I asked questions.  I have to be careful to not ask too many.  

 

 

 

I have to be careful not to ask too many questions. I love learning more about people and will ask a whole bunch of questions, but I don't want people to feel uncomfortable if they don't want to share or as if they are being interrogated. Especially when it's someone I see once in a while - I don't want them to dread seeing me because I'm the woman who always asks a million questions, kwim?  

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Sure, I ask questions if I want to get the ball rolling.  Most often sociable people will pick up and continue.  what I find often happens is that there are people who don't want to respond..they have an agenda, and I am not on it. 

Edited by Heigh Ho
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I remember one time my XH and I were at a company party where we didn't know many people and we sat down next to a couple and tried to start up a conversation.  We were young, no kids, and we asked them if they had kids. 'yes.'  Was the only thing they said.  And they diverted their eyes to not have to keep talking to us.  We found it so comical even at the time.  They obviously did not want to talk to us. 

 

Or they did not want to talk to anybody.

I can talk to practically anybody, but I once had an event that was painful.

We used to invite DH's research group over twice a year, all the undergrads and grad students who work for him, and bbq or have a dinner. It is usually a lot of fun; they all know each other, and people have a good time. Except for that one year. We had four people; one spoke barely any English, but the others would have been able to speak, just didn't. I ask a question - get one short answer. I ask the next question, something that is sure to get the ball rolling - two word answer and silence. I swear, I can liven up any party, but sitting with these four guys who made faces as if they'd rather be any place on the planet but their advisor's house was disastrous. Conversation never happened. And we stopped holding the parties thereafter, because they were so uncomfortable. But this year he has a lively group, so we'll have one in the spring - it all depends on the personality mix. 

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Or they did not want to talk to anybody.

I can talk to practically anybody, but I once had an event that was painful.

We used to invite DH's research group over twice a year, all the undergrads and grad students who work for him, and bbq or have a dinner. It is usually a lot of fun; they all know each other, and people have a good time. Except for that one year. We had four people; one spoke barely any English, but the others would have been able to speak, just didn't. I ask a question - get one short answer. I ask the next question, something that is sure to get the ball rolling - two word answer and silence. I swear, I can liven up any party, but sitting with these four guys who made faces as if they'd rather be any place on the planet but their advisor's house was disastrous. Conversation never happened. And we stopped holding the parties thereafter, because they were so uncomfortable. But this year he has a lively group, so we'll have one in the spring - it all depends on the personality mix. 

 

 

Why go to a party if you don't want to talk to anyone?

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Why go to a party if you don't want to talk to anyone?

 

Feeling of obligation? You said yours was a company party.

My disaster party was work related too, so perhaps those poor souls thought they'd have to go ...

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Feeling of obligation? You said yours was a company party.

My disaster party was work related too, so perhaps those poor souls thought they'd have to go ...

 

 

I guess.  

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I ask questions- it was what I was taught. I think conversation skills used to be taught more explicitly and there was a common understanding about what was expected in conversations and introductions. It comes easier for some. I was shy, so it was hard for me at first, but like any skill, it has become easier with practice. 

 

My DDs are very shy so we practice at home but mostly they wouldn't initiate conversations or ask questions back. I was so proud of DD last week because she saw a new girl to a group sitting alone and decided to talk to her. She said it took her about 20min of psyching herself up and preparing conversation topics in her head, but she did it and it went well.  :hurray:

 

It's not intrusive if you don't ask intrusive questions. I think in some ways homeschooled kids I've known are better conversationalists because they have more practice with different ages and because parents have more time to teach these soft skills. Schools today are so busy being worried about tests and conversation skills aren't on the test-unless you're in college taking a communications class!

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Why go to a party if you don't want to talk to anyone?

Maybe social obligation?

 

I feel like questions are how a conversation starts, unless I'm lucky and an opportunity presents for a nice, humorous comment! I feel like asking questions is how it works, I ask a bit, then it is your turn.

 

My memory stinks! So after a few questions I have to stop asking because I'm paranoid about forgetting the answers before i see you again. In fact, that subject is often one of my conversation topics, I figure I may as well introduce the potential of repeated questions right up front so you aren't surprised next time we meet and i start over from scratch (unless you would like to drive the conversation next time?)

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Sometimes people need to be drawn out a bit.  We have a young couple at church who rebuffed any attempts at conversation for a long time.  But they still kept coming, so we figured they liked us OK.  One day I started chatting with them - by asking questions - and they were very sweet and polite but I did feel like I was interrogating them because they answered in a short, closed way and didn't ask any questions in return.  I thought surely I'd driven them off, but no, they came back.  Slowly they started talking to more people.  I think she really finally opened up more than a year later when we had a baby shower for her.  Now I consider her a great friend and while she is still quiet, I've enjoyed working alongside her (at church, mostly, but also at her home by helping her unpack when they moved into a new place, stuff like that).  Now that they have a baby, they have a built-in conversation topic, too.  They are just quiet and shy, and will likely always be quiet around new people.  

 

One nice thing, if we are doing something together, and it gets quiet, it's fine.  It not an uncomfortable silence, as it is with some people and I find myself wracking my brain to think of something to say.

Edited by marbel
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Or they did not want to talk to anybody.

I can talk to practically anybody, but I once had an event that was painful.

We used to invite DH's research group over twice a year, all the undergrads and grad students who work for him, and bbq or have a dinner. It is usually a lot of fun; they all know each other, and people have a good time. Except for that one year. We had four people; one spoke barely any English, but the others would have been able to speak, just didn't. I ask a question - get one short answer. I ask the next question, something that is sure to get the ball rolling - two word answer and silence. I swear, I can liven up any party, but sitting with these four guys who made faces as if they'd rather be any place on the planet but their advisor's house was disastrous. Conversation never happened. And we stopped holding the parties thereafter, because they were so uncomfortable. But this year he has a lively group, so we'll have one in the spring - it all depends on the personality mix. 

 

do you think social expectations may be part of it? i have noticed students and just starting out colleagues may sometimes worry that they should have brought a dish, or a better dish or a bottle of wine or whatever, and the social anxiety shuts them down.  I have been able to open them up by leaving a puzzle (rubiks cube, tavern puzzle,  etc) out as an icebreaker, and that gets them to interact with each other and the dc and then they can flow into interacting with me...otherwise its just them and dh and it stays awkward; we don't have room for a pool table or activities like darts, which seem to work well at others' homes for helping the hostess get people talking. 

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taking notes.....

 

:laugh:

 

See I think this is where I go wrong.  Every friend I've had (and it takes a lot to call someone a friend) has been EXCESSIVELY extroverted.  Because they'd have to be.  Literally they'd have to be the sort of person who loves holding a gushy conversation with themselves where they can go on and on about themselves.  LOL 

 

I have a friend like that! She talks and talks and talks (and talks and talks.). And I’m ok with that. I wouldn’t want all my friends to be like that, but when you have one like that, it takes all the conversation pressure off. I just nod and smile and sometimes squeeze in a few sentences. She is a pretty good storyteller and I don’t have to do any of the work in the conversation.

 

 

  

Sometimes people need to be drawn out a bit.

This is true. Sometimes people just don’t like to talk about themselves initially. It might take a few meetings for them to be ok with it.

 

 

I think that thoughtful, but not overly prying, questions are appropriate and almost the only way to keep a conversation going. Each person can make comments about a topic, but without a few questions thrown in, it’s hard to come up with another topic to talk about.

 

I remember reading an interview Oprah had with someone (I’ve never watched her show). In the printed interview, she would ask a question and the person would answer it, and then she asked follow up questions based on what they said—a lot of them. She let the interview wander in the direction that the interviewee was going. When they came to a natural end of a topic, then she’d ask about a new topic.

 

Other printed interviews don’t go like that. The interviewer asks a question and responds to the answer, but then switches the topic to the next question.

 

Ever since reading that Oprah interview, I’ve been trying to do that—to ask a question and then keep on the same topic with my comments or further questions until that topic plays out. Then I don’t feel so much like I’m grilling with a bunch of different questions, but that we’re both exploring a single topic together.

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do you think social expectations may be part of it? i have noticed students and just starting out colleagues may sometimes worry that they should have brought a dish, or a better dish or a bottle of wine or whatever, and the social anxiety shuts them down.  I have been able to open them up by leaving a puzzle (rubiks cube, tavern puzzle,  etc) out as an icebreaker, and that gets them to interact with each other and the dc and then they can flow into interacting with me...otherwise its just them and dh and it stays awkward; we don't have room for a pool table or activities like darts, which seem to work well at others' homes for helping the hostess get people talking. 

 

No, I do not think so, because I have seen plenty of other students interact just fine. This was way outside the norm. This particular group consisted entirely of introverts without social skills or with some kind of social anxiety. (I added the italicized modifier, because I am surrounded by introverts who are able to interact in groups without awkwardness; being introverted alone would not explain the behavior.)

And these people all knew each other, so they should have been able to talk. 

Edited by regentrude
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I ask very general get to know you questions because I think it's rude to talk about myself all the time. People would be bored at best and annoyed at worst if I did. I ask one and see if it gets and keeps the ball rolling.  If not, I ask another.  If people seem uncomfortable answering I find someone else to talk to.

 

Depending on the context it could be things like: How are you enjoying the event? How do you know the people hosting the event?  How did you get interested in the event/topic? Do you have big plans for the upcoming holiday? What do you like to do in your spare time? or Tell me about yourself.  And if they seem responsive I ask another relevant, related question.

I would say regardless of age, most Americans are bad at conversation.  Either they are completely unaware that they should make a reciprocal effort to keep a conversation going, they don't know how or they just don't want to. I usually end up doing all the asking.

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I don't as much as I ought to - I'm rather anxious in social situations with people I don't know well, and so my brain is too frozen up to think of things to ask, even when it is obvious.  I am better now that I have a much longer list of stock comments and phrases - which is just a feature of age - but I'm not great.  Once I know someone fairly well I am much better at it though.

 

I do think people can be less inclined to ask things.  People seem very sensitive these days about questions being aggressive or prying etc, so a lot of obvious things like "where are you from" seem fraught.  Not everyone feels that way of course, but if you don't know the person, you aren't sure if they do or not.  And if you don't know them it is hard to know what their sensitivities might be.  The parenting group I was on was mostly full of millennials, and there were regular posts about someone or other being upset by a question someone they didn't really know had asked them.  I've found I'm disinclined to say much that isn't completely banal in those kinds of settings, at least when I'm talking to other women.

 

 

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I would say regardless of age, most Americans are bad at conversation.  Either they are completely unaware that they should make a reciprocal effort to keep a conversation going, they don't know how or they just don't want to. I usually end up doing all the asking.

 

My experience is different; I very rarely meet somebody who does not know how to converse. Parties are always lively and full of interesting conversation. Except for that one awkward event I mentioned in a previous post, I have never ended up having to do heavy lifting to keep the talk going.

Perhaps different demographics are different? 

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I would say regardless of age, most Americans are bad at conversation.  Either they are completely unaware that they should make a reciprocal effort to keep a conversation going, they don't know how or they just don't want to. I usually end up doing all the asking.

 

My experience is otherwise.  I have noticed a sizable percent of men who won't interact with women (for various reasons) but their loss.  Usually also a group that sticks to themselves, but hey, some people never do grow out of jr hi behavior.  Most military/ex-military know how to keep a convo going. 

Edited by Heigh Ho
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My experience is otherwise.  I have noticed a sizable percent of men who won't interact with women (for various reasons) but their loss.  Usually also a group that sticks to themselves, but hey, some people never do grow out of jr hi behavior. 

 

wow, that is interesting. I am in a male dominated field and have never met a single person like this.

Who are these kinds of men?

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I guess.

Or maybe kids was a painful topic?

 

I have a talent of asking the wrong questions. I’ll ask about kids to someone who just had a miscarriage, or jobs to the guy who’s been unemployed for 6 months.

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I try to ask polite icebreaker questions. Most of the new people I meet are homeschoolers, so that provides some natural, easy questions. “Which child is yours?†“How old is/are your child/children?†“Where do you live/what school district are you in?†“Have you homeschooled long?†“Have you started school yet/how is your year going?†I also handle new membership for our group, so I feel a little pressure to welcome new people. That’s really out of my comfort zone, but I try to make the effort. I’m always running through, in my mind, who else is there that a new family might connect with. So I often say, “You must be Susie. I’m HappyPAMama; we talked via email. Welcome, so glad you could make it. Your little girl is 7? Let me introduce you to Sally; her Emily will be 7 soon.†Or I fall back on the basic standby icebreakers, and if that’s not really opening up a chat, I’ll excuse myself after a few minutes to go check on something official, hopefully politely. (I’m a board member so if it’s an official activity, that wouldn’t be out of place.)

 

With people like DH’s boss’s wife, whom I don’t see often, but where it’s important that I be polite, I can ask a general “how are you these days?†or comment that her kids are growing up so fast. But in those situations, she’s typically taken an interest in me because I have younger children, so that helps. If nothing else, I can always say something like, “Such a nice party — so glad we can make it.â€

 

I’m also super introverted, so it actually probably won’t bother me if someone doesn’t talk to me at a function like a company party. I am totally okay with sticking close to DH’s side and smiling politely.

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I’m a question asker, but not to the extreme. My dad is the type of person who won’t let you come up for air, he asks so many questions. He also tends to ask awkward, weirdly personal, or unanswerable questions. Growing up there were a few times that I just wanted to crawl into a hole.

 

So I try to have some self awareness.

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As an introvert I have had to learn to ask more questions. One thing that helps me is that if I can get other people talking about themselves, then I won't have to talk about myself, lol.

 

It can be a good strategy for an introvert if you can hit on the right topics with people...something near and dear to them that they can go on and on about 😉

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I ask very general get to know you questions because I think it's rude to talk about myself all the time. 

 

That's how I was taught.  I try to make sure the conversation goes back and forth.

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I ask some questions, and try to relate some experiences, but I had to learn not to always follow up someone's story with one of my own--it's the way I used to make connections, but it can become all about me.

 

I remember helping ds with his conversational skills. I said it's like playing tennis. You hit the ball back and forth. He was just answering without much elaboration (pretty much NO elaboration, really). I really wanted him to learn this skill as he became old enough to interview for a job. 

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wow, that is interesting. I am in a male dominated field and have never met a single person like this.

Who are these kinds of men?

 

uneducated talking to educated or vice-versa (and not all of them)

particular cultures, those where women are second-class

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This is an interesting question. I have never thought about it much. I am really outgoing and I guess do a little of both. Usually I will ask a question that pertains to the location. Here is one from today at our umbrella school

 

"How long have you been attending here?" They answer and I might say "we have been here x amount of time. My kids are really loving it so far" and then they say something and the conversation led into directions of curriculum, homeschooling, our husband's jobs, what we did previously...it just took off. I asked some questions that felt appropriate along the way and answered questions.

 

I guess I wonder how people get to know each other if not for showing an interest in the other person. I find it more innapropriate to just start volunteering information about myself that they didn't ask about.

 

When I am asking questions and the person just answers and doesn't really ask questions or give more to the conversation then I assume they don't want to be talking to me and I extract myself. I always tend to interpret one sided conversation as someone being polite and tolerant but hoping I will stop talking :)

Edited by nixpix5

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I enjoy speaking with people but *hate* being peppered with questions.

 

I think conversation can be started without asking personal questions. I know weather is mocked as cliche but I'd sooner be drawn in by "it sure is cold" than personal questions.

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I think conversation can be started without asking personal questions. I know weather is mocked as cliche but I'd sooner be drawn in by "it sure is cold" than personal questions.

 

but where does the conversation go after "it sure is cold"? How long can one talk about weather without being boring? Surely, at some point one has to switch to a more personal subject - unless, perhaps, one is in the company of meteorologists

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I ask questions. I have small talk A LOT with people I either just met or don’t know well. I’ve found asking questions and showing interest in the other person is waaaaaay easier in making conversations painless and less awkward.

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I enjoy speaking with people but *hate* being peppered with questions.

 

I think conversation can be started without asking personal questions. I know weather is mocked as cliche but I'd sooner be drawn in by "it sure is cold" than personal questions.

So you wouldn't want someone to ask you how old your toddler is? Or some such?

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My experience is that most people are willing to answer, but don't follow up with questions of their own.

This is like 50% of people I meet. I don’t get it. Even the tiniest bit of effort on their part would give me somethjng to work with.

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Both hubby and I are social creatures.  We talk with pretty much anyone and have had no problem getting others to talk with us - and they seem to always enjoy it.

 

Yes, we ask questions - and we're willing to listen - then the conversation goes where it will.

 

Interestingly enough, I'm an introvert in that I "recharge my batteries" alone rather than with people, but I don't have problems interacting with most other folks.  I would feel fine being at an event and told the scheduled speaker was late, so could I kill some time with the crowd?  (I'm also fine people-watching if that's what I prefer at the time.)

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This is like 50% of people I meet. I don’t get it. Even the tiniest bit of effort on their part would give me somethjng to work with.

If they won't volly back I just start talking about myself. If they still show no interest I stop talking.
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Both hubby and I are social creatures. We talk with pretty much anyone and have had no problem getting others to talk with us - and they seem to always enjoy it.

 

Yes, we ask questions - and we're willing to listen - then the conversation goes where it will.

 

Interestingly enough, I'm an introvert in that I "recharge my batteries" alone rather than with people, but I don't have problems interacting with most other folks. I would feel fine being at an event and told the scheduled speaker was late, so could I kill some time with the crowd? (I'm also fine people-watching if that's what I prefer at the time.)

I am also a social introvert. Most people don't think of me as introverted because I can talk to anyone anywhere. But it drains me.

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I'm dubious that anyone who is social and makes friends never asks questions when they're first meeting someone. Sure, conversations can start without it, and you can be the sort who always answers - but probably not if you're an outgoing extrovert. I think this is likely that someone either isn't very self-reflective about the fact that they are asking questions, they don't consider some basic things like, "Are we in that class together?" a question, or they "know" someone pretty quickly and then ask questions after that.

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I ask questions.  Most people enjoy talking about themselves, and I find people interesting.  Of course, I don't ask intrusive questions and I watch for cues to let me know if the person prefers not to discuss something.

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It is OK to ask many kinds of questions.  Usually you get a hint and you ask a question based on that ... "oh, do you work in health care?"  "oh, have you been traveling recently?"  "oh, do you have a long drive to get here?"  Something that allows them to blab about themselves, which most people enjoy tremendously.  :P

 

 

Of course I don't always ask questions with a stranger.  Sometimes I will just make a random observation, the usual weather / season / we're all in it together type stuff.  Most often I just mind my own business as I have work to do.

 

 

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My experience is that most people are willing to answer, but don't follow up with questions of their own.

 

What if you ask a more open ended question...like 'what do you think of ___'?  

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Yes, I ask questions all the time.  I think most people don't mind questions, and in fact even like them, because it gets the conversation moving, and generally people enjoy talking about something they're interested in, or they like to know that someone else finds what they are saying or doing interesting.  And I usually do find what other people have to say interesting.  So, I poke around with a few questions and try to find something they're interested in.  Obviously I don't jump in and start asking personal questions.  

 

I'm not an extrovert either though, although I do enjoy being with people.  But I rarely just jump in and start talking about myself.  And I'm much better at one-on-one.

 

ETA:  Plus, I think relationships and communicating with other people is a big part of living.  So to go around not talking to people or asking them a few questions when they're standing right next to me seems weird, especially if it's a social event!

Edited by J-rap
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but where does the conversation go after "it sure is cold"? How long can one talk about weather without being boring? Surely, at some point one has to switch to a more personal subject - unless, perhaps, one is in the company of meteorologists

 

But it doesn't have to be much more personal. We could follow up "It sure is cold," with "I can't wait for Spring," or perhaps, "but I love it," or something and say, "how about you" if the other person doesn't naturally follow up. Then we can talk about weather we like/dislike and share weather anecdotes and never really touch a significantly personal topic. 

 

If people aren't talkative, unless they give off bad vibes, I assume they are just shy and I try to be nice and draw them out. If I get a bad feeling, I back off, but I can't concern myself with whether or not someone will be offended by an innocuous question or comment. If they are, so be it. 

 

I've gone to a few mommy and me groups with my new baby and most of the moms are millennials and I would agree that they are less chatty and have a harder time breaking the ice than I think the groups were 16 years ago. People hide with their phones when they feel uncomfortable and alone which wasn't an option when my oldest was a baby. But- I haven't found anyone who didn't seem pleasant or happy that I had initiated conversation. The whole point of the group is to connect with people! As shy as I was as a young adult, I could easily have been the one hiding in my phone if it had been an option. 

Edited by Paige
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As a person who used to be painfully shy and awkward in social situations, I think it is kind to ask a quiet person a few easy questions so they feel like "OK now I know what to say" and "thank God someone is talking to me so I don't look like an idiot sitting here."

 

Actually I don't think it's fair to put the awkwardness all on the awkward people.  It takes all kinds to make a world, and those who are able to start and nurture a conversation, in my opinion, have a duty to help out those who feel lost in social situations.  Eventually the awkward people learn some skills and they can take on the task of bringing other people out.  If there is someone just quietly looking stupid at a social gathering for more than a minute, shame on the people around him/her.

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but where does the conversation go after "it sure is cold"? How long can one talk about weather without being boring? Surely, at some point one has to switch to a more personal subject - unless, perhaps, one is in the company of meteorologists

 

The last few parties I went to with people I didn't know were full of meteorologists, and they did talk about the weather.

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