Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just because I asked...

Sometimes in work related functions, after a day of meetings, I end up at dinners with colleagues from other countries that I might have nothing in common with privately and working in different countries and functions, not much in work either.

This can sometimes be pretty painful, but during these occasions I usually put on my mask of sanity and appear to be a normal reasonable guy as far as they know. However, often times these type of dinners can be filled with awkward silences as people realizes that they actually have nothing that they want to talk about with the persons in the neighboring seats. This usually triggers an attempt from me to start a conversation, and if I for some reason or other happen to know that Ms. X next to me has a hobby of gardening/skydiving/stamp collecting I throw out a question something in the vein of "I've heard that you are interested in gardening/skydiving/stamp collecting? Isn't it difficult to (something with whatever limited knowledge I happen to have of the subject)?" looking suitably interested (with great effort).

There have been several occasions when this has actually worked and the person has answered the question in a reasonable way and an overall bearable conversation starts up around the table. But there have also been times when the whole plan has backfired at me and the person interprets my questions as a genuine interest and starts to explain, at length, gardening/skydiving/stamp collecting to me, without anyone else jumping in to help take some of the weight of me as conversation target. These are the occasions when I sometimes has had to, with great effort, surpress the urge to interrupt the person and very clearly say "Look, shut up! Just because I asked doesn't mean I care!". But I'll guess I'll deal with the fallout of that if it ever comes to it.

2 comments:

Ori said...

Lately I feel uncomfortable if I must pretend to be nice. I prefer to stay in awkward silence than to have self-torture

Mr. Salaryman said...

Yeah, in my private life I can chose my company, but in the corporate world I feel the need to socialize more...

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