Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Small Talk into Big Talk

Have you heard about the man who goes to lunch with a friend and monopolizes the conversation about himself. After a fifteen minute monologue about his successes and aches and pains, he says, "Enough about me, let's talk about you...What do you think of me?"

Maybe you've met him.

Or his twin sister.

Or perhaps you've had dinner conversations that revolve only around trivial things, without helping you to get to know those included around your table.

My husband and I came up with an idea that might help in those situations. We tried it at a recent extended family gathering of three generations (well four, but one generation can't really talk yet) that turned what could have been a time of "small talk" into interesting "big talk".

First Jim and I came up with a list of questions like:

  • What is your earliest childhood memory?
  • What chores did you do as a child?
  • What is one character trait you've worked on and had some victory over?
  • What nicknames have you had?
  • Other than the Bible, what book has had an impact on your life?
  • If you had done or learned _________ how would it have changed your life?
  • What is your favorite song? Why do you like it so much?

I put these on individual strips of paper and into a basket. In turn each person chose a paper and after reading their question, chose who in the room they would ask their question.

Each person could only be asked a question once, so that everyone had a turn asking and answering a question. 

We had a great time listening to the answers and sometimes asking follow up questions to learn even more. 

My mother often comments that there are many questions she would now like to ask her parents and even grandparents, but of course it's too late. With that in mind, a variation of this game could be to have an older generation think of some of those kinds of questions. Then use those questions for the children and grandchildren to ask the older ones.

Perhaps some would even like to play interviewer and have a real or pretend video camera and microphone to use as they "interview" others.

This activity would help children (and others) learn that conversation consists in asking others about their lives, opinions, and likes. We can all model this kind of conversation and when thinking people wonder why they enjoy talking to us, they will realize we frequently turn the conversation back to them.

Connectivity with our family and friends doesn't come automatically. Don't be afraid to step out of the weather-sports-news conversation box and really get to know one another.

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Remember to like the Around the Table Book Facebook page to get a conversation starter question every week day.

Linking with these great blogs.

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Coming Up!
Come back and read these topics coming up in the blog:
January 30 -- A Ro-tic Valentines: My plan for Valentines without my man!
February 1 -- A Valentines themed recipe from a teenage friend.


  1. Terrific ideas, and I keep laughing over your choice of photos to illustrate your point. I think I've made some of those faces (in my head) at social and family functions!

    My husband and I have decided that carefully changing subjects -- branching from the monologue for others to join the conversation, really helps. I'm not a bragger in the least and can hardly handle a compliment, so self-promotion really rubs me the wrong way. Thanks for the suggestions.

    1. Hi Amy! I had to laugh when I found those pictures too! We have tried carefully changing subjects and sometimes we're blatant. Hope the ideas help!

  2. I love this idea! I'm making a copy of this list for our next family get together! The pictures were great! {I may or may not have made some of those faces myself!}
    Here via Titus2 and following!
    Blessings to you ~ Mary

    1. Thanks, Mary! We won't accuse anyone of making those faces! Hope your family has fun learning more about each other with this activity.

  3. Great ideas! thanks for sharing them....empty nesters need ideas, too! :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Karen. This would work well with guests or family!

  4. Great post, those are fantastic ideas, they can be good ways to have meaningul conversations. Thanks for sharing

  5. What I would like to know is why are they making those faces? YUK! LOL Love your ideas here. It's almost like a game & yet getting to know one another. Really cool! Have a great weekend. Following you.

  6. All good ideas. The pics gave me a laugh this morning!

  7. I love these kind of question games! I was playing something like this with my granddaughter recently. She loved listening to my answers much more than providing her own, it was much more of an interview but what fun! She found out things about me that even her Mom, my daughter, didn't know about! Thanks for sharing this.

  8. This is such a great idea. I come from a family of talkers but not much meaningful conversation takes place as most everyone is talking about themselves. I like to always include a question at the end of my posts as I feel like the post is all about me and want to hear about my readers. Thank you for joining the GRAND Social.

  9. Great ideas! Here's another good one: what's the first job you ever had? (I guess this would just work on the adults at the table!) We tried this at a dinner party once and learned so much about our friends that way! Paper boy, candy store was pretty interesting.

  10. What great ideas for conversation starters. Thanks so much for linking up!

  11. Great ideas! A few years ago at a family reunion with about 100 people present, we were each given a questionnaire with questions about the family. They included questions like "Who was an army nurse during WWII." It was great fun and we all learned a lot of new things about family members.

    Stopping by from The Grand Social.

  12. You are right, usually there is only small talk and we don't really get to know each other. Those are great questions! Thanks for linking with me :)

  13. Wonderful ideas for a very important life skill! Love the illustrations --- really curious about what was going on there! Thanks so much for sharing on Busy Monday!



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