- Josh Anderson
5 Ways to Make Small Talk a Big Deal
theHeart is committing an extended amount of time in July for our church family to get better connected. That includes reserving two hours every Sunday morning for you to have meaningful conversations with people. Take four minutes to read about 5 ways you can be intentional about the conversations you have with new friends.
Let's face it, whether we're an excitable extrovert or an introspective introvert, making real, lasting friendships can be a challenge sometimes. Maybe even lots of times.
The work of establishing real, genuine relationships can be especially frustrating in today's culture, which seems to be driven more and more by social media and electronic communications. Too often we find a screen playing the role of intermediary when we're "building" relationships. As a result, our personal conversations have become a bit clumsy. And we sadly realize that emojis, friend requests, and memes fail at helping us truly connect with one another.
What if the most life-giving relationships are not found at your fingertips? What if in fact we discover friendships in the inconvenient truth that they require a personal investment on our part to initiate, nurture, and maintain? And what if time and vulnerability are the only real steps we can take to transport ourselves beyond mere acquaintances and into the realm of trusted confidants?
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
You'll have the opportunity to explore the answer to these questions throughout the month of July at theHeart. Starting Sunday, July 1, we're committing all of our 9am gatherings–five in total–to provide an inviting space where we can all spend quality time getting to know each other better. Prayerfully as a result, we can make some good friends in the process.
5 SUNDAYS FOR FRIENDS
9am: Community Gathering
11am: Worship Gathering
A food truck will be selling biscuits
and we'll be providing complimentary coffee from 9-11am.
Nursery will be available during the 11am Gathering.
Kids Ministry will be held in the auditorium during the 11am Gathering.
Just to make it a bit more comfortable and convenient, we'll provide coffee and have a food truck on hand selling biscuits. All we ask of you is to show up with as much intentionality and courage you can muster. Otherwise we might all find ourselves leaning up against a wall, quietly staring at our Chacos.
What do we mean by this? Quite simply, come each Sunday expecting to make real connections with people. Only together can we invite a Spirit-filled atmosphere that is safe, welcoming, and ripe for deep and meaningful conversations.
Here are five ways to prepare for 5 Sundays of great conversations with new friends:
1. Play a Name Game
Learning and remembering someone's name shows them that you care. Sounds easy enough, right? But if you're like most, this is one of the biggest obstacles we face when meeting someone new. How often have you found yourself dodging someone because you've forgotten their name? Or you find yourself saying, "Hey...you." Forgetting names is most often caused by a lack of focus rather than forgetfulness. Remembering names starts with giving the person you're meeting for the first time your undivided attention. Repeat his or her name aloud. This is especially helpful if you're unsure of the spelling or pronunciation. Immediately ask a question to give yourself time to anchor the name in your memory. Use this time to repeat his or her name silently to yourself. Associate it with something vivid. At the end of your conversation, say the person's name out loud one more time. Try some of these memorization tricks out for yourself and see how many names you remember at the end of five weeks.
2. Don't Talk Shop
So often our default opener to conversations is, "What do you do for work?" It's not a bad thing to ask, but sometimes it limits us to talking our jobs. And it often leads to small talk. Going deep and having meaningful connections often requires us to be vulnerable. Talk about your passions, dreams, things you celebrate, things you've been wrestling with. Maybe start a discussion about the current sermon series. Focusing on who you are rather than what you do can reveal the heart of someone in ways you might never have imagined. And you could find out more about someone than just where they work.
3. Ask Questions and Listen
This is a great option for introverts. And it just might be a thoughtful challenge to extroverts. Asking thoughtful questions is one of the best ways to keep a conversation flowing. It shows that you want to know more about a person. Ask someone to share their story with you. Actively listen to what the person has to say. When we listen to learn, we can follow up with even more insightful questions. "How do you think that impacted you?" "Did you ever expect that to happen?" "Do you hear 'Laurel' or 'Yanny'?" Asking related questions and being attentive to what the person is saying–or even not saying–can lead to meaningful connections.
4. Expect the Best
Assume the other person is just as eager to have meaningful conversations as you are. People who are happy about their conversations are generally happier people. Mostly, this refers to in-depth conversations, but surface-level chats can raise your endorphins, too. Try to put effort into each conversation that you have and you'll start to see the best in the person standing across from you. Before you even start a conversation, consider thinking about how the person you're chatting with is feeling, too. When we get out of our own heads and think of others, suddenly the right things to say come easy to us. Good conversation makes us available to other people, and we come to realize that who God created us to be is on full display.
5. Share Digits, Schedule Dates
Admittedly, a high school commons area with lots of people around is not the best place to engage in great conversation. Meeting people is one thing. Building lasting relationships requires a slow, relaxed pace and a chill atmosphere free of distractions. Coffee shops are great for this purpose. So is hosting someone for a meal. But it also requires more of commitment than simply saying, "We should get together sometime." During these next 5 Sundays in July, make every effort to continue your conversations between Sundays. Exchange phone numbers. Schedule a meeting over coffee immediately. Start a habit of making relationships a priority in your life. Of course the result might be needing to create a separate line item in your personal budget for hanging out with friends.
There are countless other suggestions, these are just five for you to hang on your fridge. Reflect on them. Use them to make flashcards. Or ignore them and find others that fit your own personality and preference. Whatever it takes, we hope you find real, genuine friendships at theHeart.