Find Buried Treasure in Your Conversation

An example of a conversation I never want to have again:

“Hi.”
“Hi.”
“How are you?”
“How are you?”
“…”

As hard as I try to avoid them, these content-less exchanges still sneak up on me. And they make me sad.

Compare that empty calorie of a conversation to the exchange that takes you on a journey with twists and turns you can’t see coming. These are the words that turn strangers into friends, friends into best friends, and (in my own life) a stranger into the love of my life.

The first time Brian and I sat down to talk, eight hours flew by and, apparently, I laughed so hard that I spit into his mouth. (Ew). One date later, we moved in together.

What made that conversation different? We let ourselves be taken by surprise. No filters. No walls. No careful consideration of what’s “okay” to say. It’s not that we violated all social norms, it’s just that we didn’t consider them. We let go, played, and discovered. In the midst of it, we said and heard things we’d never said or heard before.

Come to think of it, my best friendships have also sprouted from this kind of verbal adventure.

Fellow Surprisologist LeeAnn Renninger teaches a class on conversation science where she suggests a great trick: look for the buried treasure in every conversation.

What new kernel of wisdom, joke, idea, or story can you uncover the next time you talk to someone? How will this conversation be unlike any other?

When I think about talking in this way, I feel giddy. It reminds me that when we interrupt the safe and stale patterns of our interactions, amazing things can happen.

Have you had a conversation adventure? Do tell!

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