The other day I spent some time with friends who are studying the Enneagram. It is a complicated system of learning about yourself and others through the study of nine personality types. If you don’t know about it here are two links: Enneagram.com and Enneagraminstitute.com. One of the woman, who is a self-described 5, was talking about how small talk is so draining to her. She said if she was never going to see these people again, who cares about their stories. I perked up and said, “I do,” (I am a 7 on the enneagram.)
One of my favorite things is talking with someone I don’t know and discovering something fascinating about them. Even the most unappealing person can have some interest that is a surprise: they are an expert on local bees or they collect antique door knobs or they once were on an Olympic synchronized swimming team.
If you love to hear stories as much as I do, you will enjoy this Great Questions List from StoryCorps. I find it very easy to engage people in conversation if I listen to what they are saying and ask appropriate questions. They enjoy telling their story and I enjoy hearing what they have to say so it is a satisfying exchange.
If this is hard for you and you want to try it, check out the StoryCorps questions and make up your own list and then go find some strangers to listen to.