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Conversational Help?
December 10, 2003
12:32 pm
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imSusie
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Hi,

I've been sorta isolated for the last 18 years, and was painfully shy before that. I'm trying to get better but am in a panic.

I have to have, that's not the way to phrase it, I'm having lunch with my boss's wife tomorrow and just can't imagine how I'll keep a conversation going that long. My stomach is in a giant knot already. I'll probably just stare at the poor woman.

I married, no kids, no college, good job. She married, 2 kids, starting college at 35 no job. So far I see me trashing her husband, my boss, for an hour.

I don't read newspapers, watch news or have any interest in sports. I grow orchids, that's it. Nothing to have a conversation about. I feel sick.

Help!!!!!!

December 10, 2003
1:20 pm
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mj
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Sometimes being a good listener is very much appreciated. Are she and YOU and only ones having lunch? Did she invite you? Maybe she is lonely and needed a friend and she picked you.

December 10, 2003
1:42 pm
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eve
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You don't have to tell people about your own life to have an interesting conversation. Try to ask questions. Best ask questions about things that you find interesting about what you know of her life (what does it feel like to go to college after having children, isn't is stressful - that would be something that I found interesting).

December 10, 2003
1:43 pm
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gingerleigh
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Actually, why not ask her questions about herself? There are a lot of differences between you two, she could probably talk at length about her life... ask her about her kids, ask her about her classes... who knows, maybe her passions will spark some interest in you as well...

December 10, 2003
1:57 pm
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Anonymous
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I find that asking them about the things they like to talk about keeps the conversation flowing for hours. It always does the trick. And they love you for it !

I usually take the subject to travel. Most people love to talk about places they've seen and I love to hear about that, so it's wonderful when it could have been very uncomfortable.

December 10, 2003
2:03 pm
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imSusie
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Oh, thank God, responses! I can't beleive what a panic this has me in. I'm an adult and it's just lunch, this is rediculous. I know it's a good opportunity to learn and practice and she's a nice person, but I'm really nauseous and on the verge of tears here!

MJ - yes, just me and her. I can't imagine what prompted this. We have met at 2 business dinners, nice big, distracting crowd and alchohol. I picked on her husband and she found it funny, no real conversation involved and other people filled the voids.

All - Listening, I'm GREAT at that! OK, I'll work on thinking of questions to keep her talking. Good idea.

I often go stupid when I'm nervous. It's not unusual for me to stare at someone thinking 'say something, anything, you idiot' anyone have any tricks, ideas, to get past that?

Thanks so much for responding!

Sue

December 10, 2003
3:08 pm
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sixfootblonde
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Hey Sue, don't feel bad, I'm the opposite of you -- I often blab things out and then wish I'd just shut up. So she invited you out? That's good -- just be yourself, don't stress too bad if you can help it. The buildup will be way worse than the actuality I'm sure -- it usually is. Listening is such a great talent -- and then while she is talking you may think of other things to say. Just wing it, you'll be okay.

December 10, 2003
3:23 pm
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Wanttobewell
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Hi Susie,,,I'd be nervous too, but the others gave you the best suggestions. Nothing really I can add except she asked you for a reason. Probably she just liked you the other times you were around. I wouldn't ask someone I didn't like to eat lunch with me. Do you have a fear or uneasiness with authority figures? I do. My mind goes blank and the longer I'm around them, the worse it gets. Unless I take a Xanax or something like that. Orchids huh??? Now that is something I would find fascinatig to talk to you about. I look at them in the plant shops but am intimidated by them. Don't worry,,like the others said, listen, ask questions about her going to college etc. You should be able to keep her talking for a while like that. Since you'll be at lunch, you can always talk about foods you like. Maybe she likes to cook. I'll be thinking of you. Take a real deep breath!!! W

December 10, 2003
4:41 pm
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unhappy camper
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susie
I'm a nervous eater in public and have been a shy person but over the years I'm much better.

But for me it was important to take some precautions. No coffee/caffeine, don't drink too much liquids at all (not good to have a full bladder), eat food easy to handle, dress comfortably but nicely so you feel confident too, get there a bit early so you are not rushing and stressed, read the newspaper that morning and mention a few interesting things, and like others have suggested here, listen and ask questions and respond to her questions with a pleasant clear answer. Maybe even mention to her that you are nervous???? Not sure about that.

But try to set this up so you are as comfy and relaxed as possible, and enjoy it. Eat in the morning too so you are not lightheaded.

And this trick helped me when I was in your situation. I said to myself "this WILL be over in one hour....that is not too long....then I can go home or wherever and relax, this WILL end and not feel bad forever"....etc.

December 10, 2003
5:36 pm
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mj
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Hey Susie 🙂
That's probably why she invited you to lunch. She probably liked how you dared be honest about her husband and your boss and liked what you had to offer. She probably will buy Lunch as well. Might turn into a very nice friendship?
You have seemed to keep this conversation going with your first question. I have faith that you will do just fine. Just remind yourself that you Rock 🙂

December 10, 2003
6:46 pm
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Ladeska
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Speaking or orchids....just saw something last night on T.V. about them and they said that they are the oldest living flower on the planet! Now THAT is something to talk about! Maybe bring her an orchid plant!

December 10, 2003
8:37 pm
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imSusie
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This rediculous, I felt so good getting your support. I was going to ask lots of questions, listen and make sure I made myself comforatble on teh way in (unhappy camper - this would have never occurred to me! Thanks)

Now a couple hours later, I'm home and have had a nice meal and I'm a complete a total wreck. I'm really having panic attacks here! My stomach hurts, I'm breathing fast....

I feel so stupid. This is just lunch with someone I know is a nice person. What's wrong with me?

read a paper
dress nice but comfortable
arrive early
ask lots of questions
smile

I'm going to say something stupid and mean, I just know I am. I'll hurt her feelings.

Thanks for listening to me whine. This is just plain embarrassing now.

Sue

December 11, 2003
1:05 am
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Squeezles
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I'm probably late chiming in, but...

People LOVE it when you ask them about yourself. They like to feel that others are interested in them and their lives...but try and reciprocate with your own comments so it doesn't feel like an interrogation.

Things you could ask:
Did you grow up around here? How old are your kids? What are their names? Are they at school/college? What year etc etc. So you're going back to college? What are you studying? How long will that take? What made you decide to go back? What made you chose those subjects? Does she have any hobbies (and then insert how you're a fabulous gardner that grows orchids etc). What is she doing for Christmas? Is she going away for some holidays (and then perhaps discuss your plans) etc etc. It's also probably a good idea to read up a little on some local events to give you some background. And remember you can always comment on the food, the setting of your lunch etc.

When I get 'stuck' in conversation I tend to fidget. What works for me is if I have a drink to take a sip whenever there's an awkward silence. That way in my head I justify to myself that I can't be talking because my mouth is otherwise occupied! But like UC said...just take little sips to avoid the full bladder syndrome. Perhaps if you're feeling really desperate you could excuse yourself and slip off to the ladies even if it's just a pretense - that should buy you a few minutes!

Just do your best! You've only met a few times so there will probably naturally be a few awkward silences...no doubt she'll be 'feeling' them too. Listening is a great skill...and not every silence has to be filled in by some innane comment. And remember that she is just as 'responsible' for keeping the conversation going as you are.

Anyway, good luck! It's only lunch, it's only lunch!!

December 11, 2003
4:15 pm
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imSusie
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Well, with your support, I have survived lunch and don't beleive I've done any long term damage! She showed up with a handmade gift for me and I felt bad to be empty handed, but other than that it wasn't bad. There were some awkward silences, but I could see her start squirming too and that somehow made it better. Less my fault maybe.

Thanks again, everybody.

Sue

December 11, 2003
4:20 pm
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artist 2
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Sue, Congratulations for making it through! Why not ask her to lunch next week and bring her a gift too?

December 11, 2003
4:21 pm
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mj
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YOU Rock Susie!!! 🙂

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