Food – The Common Ground We Humans Share
I used to be able to talk to anybody without a problem. No one was a stranger to me and being very social, I was usually able to guide a conversation to something that the other person/people could talk about enjoyably.
As I’ve gotten older though, I have become much more introverted and find it harder to make conversation with strangers unless they are very intent upon talking, and in that case, they lead anyway. Since I am the “face of my company” and greet the majority of visitors who come to my office, I often find myself in a position to entertain our guests until the person they’re meeting with decides to show up.
It’s taken me a little while to figure out that food is the fallback topic to use when at a loss for anything to talk about. This works about 95% of the time because most people are passionate about eating or cooking or restaurants; anything that relates to food.
I had people stop by today to meet with one of our engineers and mentioned I’d picked up a couple of the “limited edition” raspberry cheesecake cookies. They both lit up like a couple of kids and the next thing I knew we were talking about Denny’s vs. IHOP and maple syrup and who knows what else.
Food is one of the great joys of being human and we take pleasure in it and the sharing of it (or even conversation about it) creates a commonality between us.
So next time you’re stuck with someone you don’t know and are at a total loss as to what to say, mention that great restaurant you dined out at last week or the really good recipe for beef stew you just found. Chances are good that the other person will pick up the conversation and you can run with it for a while until you can comfortably segue into other conversation topics.