After a two week hiatus, I’m finally back in the blogosphere! We spent part of that time enjoying Family Camp at Camp Harmattan, the Church of the Nazarene campsite located between Olds and Sundre in southern Alberta. Down in the valley of the Little Red Deer River, we had no access to internet and I must admit that it was a nice break.
While telling his story, one of the speakers at camp made a statement that startled me. Dr. John Seaman and his wife, Linda, served on the mission field for 27 years. The last 17 of those years were spent in West Africa. John said that when he was elected to his present position of district superintendent of the Michigan District of the Church of the Nazarene, he felt completely overwhelmed. West Africa had become his comfort zone and Michigan was not!
That got me thinking. Over the past several years, we’ve stretched our comfort zones until, at times, it feels as if they have no boundaries. As I’ve thought about this over the past few days, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that my comfort zone has nothing to do with geography. I feel completely at home walking the streets of Asia but there are times right here at home when I struggle to step outside my comfort zone.
That’s where the book that I’m currently reading comes into play. I can stand in front of a class of any age in any part of the world and feel at home. I have no problem with public speaking as long as I’ve had time to prepare and I can put on a costume, even a very skimpy one, and act on stage before a full house but I dread social events where I’m required to mix and mingle. I’ve worked hard to overcome my incredibly shy nature but I still feel tongue tied and wish that I could disappear into thin air when I’m in a situation that requires conversation with people I don’t know well. I’m sure I often come across as a total snob! That’s why I’m hoping that The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine will help me stretch my comfort zone in a new direction.
Fine begins her book with a “Winning at Small Talk” worksheet. If you find yourself responding no to more than a few of the questions, this book is for you, she says. I answered every question with a no!
“If you generally wait for someone else to take the initiative in a conversation, you have been self-centered,” she says in Chapter 2. Ouch! That would definitely be me.
The book is an easy read but putting it’s principles into practice will likely take a lot more effort. Fine suggests having a repertoire of icebreaking questions to use to engage someone else in conversation. I can’t actually see myself using many of the ones she suggests but maybe I should try “Have you ever read The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine?”
Do you have any favourite conversation starters?