Starting a conversation with a stranger or even an acquaintance is difficult for some people. Additionally, men and women often start conversations differently, magnifying efforts to get off on the right foot to build positive relationships.
Men have three general subjects in their small talk repertoire: sports, current events, business and jobs. Women are comfortable with myriad topics, and many relate to family and home. Add to this that women are more comfortable disclosing personal information (marital and parenting status), and you have another stumbling block.
Case in point: At a chamber of commerce function I was discussing a recent Chicago Bears loss with three men. A woman joined us and said, “I am glad to be here. My husband is out of town, and my babysitter was late.” (Immediately, we knew she was married and a mother.) The conversation stopped … then, one of the men picked it up where we had left off. Later I asked the woman how she felt when that happened. She said at first she was embarrassed by the silence and even wished she hadn’t come. She felt much better when I wove her into the sports conversation by name.
She tried to enter the conversation in a way that was natural for her; it wasn’t received that way by the men.
What do we do about this?
Join us next week for 60 seconds worth of answers!