I’ve noticed something about human nature in the last six years or so. People are willing to share a lot of information, most of it private I might add, with complete strangers.
The biggest place I’ve noticed this phenomenon is at my work. I’m a bank teller, and I am continually shocked at what I can find out about a person if I just listen. Some of these conversations are a little uncomfortable, like the guy that came into my window and started out a conversation with a comment like “wouldn’t it be nice if we had a store where we could replace body parts if they were hurting or were not working properly.” Me being the smart aleck that I am wanted to say “doctors do that sort of thing all the time in hospitals” but all I said was “That would be nice, but probably very expensive.” Then I heard a ten minute dissertation about this guy’s gastritis and digestive issues. He described the painful the cramping and bloating he was experiencing and how he watches his diet to control the gas in his stomach. Sometimes watching his food intake wasn’t enough and he had to belch it out. Cool, right? I also learned that he didn’t believe the medication he was taking was working very well and that he would rather being dealing with acid reflux than gastritis. Whatever dude.
Some crazy conversations brighten my day…like today. I met a nice older guy that’s probably my dad’s age. He had a Billy Joel t-shirt on, like one he would buy at a concert. I told him that I liked his t-shirt, and this guy launched into a long story about how he helped renovate or finish the basement in his daughter’s house. As a thank you he received front row tickets to see Billy Joel in Vegas. A few months later he found out that Billy Joel was performing in Salt Lake and he went to see him again. I heard about where his seats were, and how much the tickets cost, and that he had also seen Billy Joel in Texas and at least 2 or 3 other states. He also got to see the Billy Joel and Elton John tour together as well.
So I smiled and said, “We should start calling you Billy Joe’s groupie since you've seen his concert so many times”. His response cracked me up. “You know, if I had to do it all over again, I would go be a roadie. You could travel with the band, help lug equipment around, and kick back and smoke some pot. That would be the life.” I was dying. Then he felt the need to tell me all about some local upcoming outdoor concerts I should check out like Josh Turner.
My point is I got this guy talking for 10-15 minutes and found out a little bit about him just because I complimented him on something as insignificant as a t-shirt. 90% of the time people love being around you if you are a good listener. If you really want to have good conversation, ask questions and get the other person talking about themselves. You might just be surprised at how much you can learn about them.