Remember the elderly woman in those Frank’s RedHot ads? Her name is Jean Hamilton and she rose to fame for exclaiming, “I put that shit on everything!” When it comes to opinions, be like Jean is with RedHot sauce. The fate of your small talk relies on free-flowing information and opinions. Don’t succumb to a passive mindset when it comes to offering opinions—be proactive and freely offer your opinions and observations (especially if they’re non-offensive and about more trivial topics). Opinions are the lifeblood of interesting and good flowing conversation—don’t hold back your opinion or wait to be asked.
By now you might be saying to yourself, “But I can’t think of good opinions quickly enough.” If you can’t, that’s because you’re not an expert on the most important topic of all—yourself. As funny as that sounds, it’s critical to maintaining great, higher levels of small talk. The best conversationalists make a point to think about and remember all of those funny, zany, unusual, interesting life moments and experiences. One of the most common traits I see in people who aren’t very good at conversation is that they have a hard time quickly recalling the fun and interesting stuff in their lives. Start paying more attention to the interesting personal information and stories worth sharing. Also, start paying attention to how you feel about everything that has occurred and everything around you.
The best conversationalists are experts on themselves. They have already formed thousands of interesting opinions about virtually everything in the world. They are in-tune with their preferences and feelings. The more you think about and offer opinions, the more your brain becomes primed to recognize and form opinions about everything in your life. Once forming opinions becomes a habit, you’ll automatically start remembering and recycling opinions that work well.
Not Convinced? Maybe You Think You’re Already an Expert?
Being an expert on yourself means that you can do more than just ace a test on you. It means that if you were a Jeopardy contestant and your autobiography was a category, you could answer every question in mere seconds. Being an expert means that when you’re put on the spot, you’re able to recall a myriad of personal opinions and insights. Because unfortunately, in most conversations, you only have a few seconds. Many smart people have difficulty communicating their opinions effectively and in a timely manner.
Try Taking The Opinion Speed Test
See if you can answer each question in the following Opinion Speed Test without hesitating for more than three seconds (you may be surprised by the results!):
1. What’s one of your favorite desserts?
2. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
3. If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
4. What new technology would you like to see exist?
5. What’s your favorite car?
6. What celebrity would make a good president?
7. What’s the best place to visit in your town?
Be honest. Could you answer those seven questions without thinking more than a few seconds per question? I’m betting you couldn’t. Don’t worry, most people couldn’t. Only people who have already previously assembled their thoughts on those topics could. Answering five of the seven is still very good.
Let’s talk more about preferences and opinions. What are your thoughts concerning college education? The Middle East crisis? Ed Sheeran’s haircut? Can you tell me your political views? Why do you believe what you do? What are your goals? Hopes? Fears? Can you tell me about your favorite places to visit? Why are those your favorites? Do you prefer mall shopping or online shopping? Why?
Sprinkle Your Opinions On Everything
When you form the habit of thinking through your opinions about everything, you’ll be able to quickly initiate and maintain better conversations. Initiate conversation with your feelings and preferences more often. Are you going to a concert Friday night? Let people know how much you’re looking forward to it. Just saw the concert? Initiate a conversation by telling people about your experience. Did it disappoint? Was it better than expected? Was it similar to something else? Share your experiences and stories. If you just saw a movie, what was your favorite scene? Was it better than the book? Why do you love going to movies?
Have something positive, playful, or complimentary to say about the other person? Say it!
That’s SO creative! How do you come up with that stuff?
You’re always thinking of the neatest ways to…
Those are amazing shoes by the way.
Humans are fascinated with the biggest, best, worst, etc. The Guinness Book of World Records is popular for a reason. Incorporate more hyperbole, definitive, categorical, and absolute statements. Check out a few more examples:
I love it there—they have the best fitting rooms.
Is there anything more delicious/grotesque than a greasy Philly Cheesesteak sandwich from a food truck? If there is, I haven’t found it yet.
They have ____ here? This place wins. This place is my new favorite diner.
That is the worst character on TV. Everything he does is illogical.
That was probably the wimpiest moment of my life.
Adding opinions to bland, factual statements, can instantly make them more multi-dimensional and entertaining. If you make an observation, “They’re selling Laffy Taffy over there,” follow up with a fun, exaggerated opinion, “And they have strawberry! That’s the best flavor—I could eat a whole bag right now.”
Stay social, my friends.