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I'm staying in an AirBnB and the host made it fairly clear that she's chatty. So let's say I want to be a really nice guest, and so I do want not only to chat with her, but make it as good as I can -- treat it as an fun challenge for myself.

The main problem is relating to her -- I never chat to people just because I'm chatty, I derive my social enjoyment from productive conversations.

So I'm looking for a list of things to experiment with to figure out how to best improve her experience, and how I should collect the feedback.

  • 1
    Hi Gabi, it might help answers to add a tag for the location/culture that this is happening in. Also, have you checked some of the past questions about small talk? For instance this one has some suggestions for getting into deeper talks (is that what you mean by "productive"?), and this is more about appearing interested to the other party. – Em C Sep 2 at 22:31
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Presumably, you're staying in an AirBnb on vacation? Talk about your day. Where you went, what you saw, what restaurant you tried. Ask about recommendations, best routes, how to use the public transportation. Compare to local experiences from home. I find these simple topics will easily fill time, especially if the person does have plenty of recommendations or has been to the same places.

  • 2
    Nice answer! Could you consider answering the other half about feedback too? that would complete it! – ankii Sep 4 at 1:28
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When I was a bartender, I had to strike up conversations with dozens of people every night. The best thing to do is ask questions. People want to talk about themselves. Start with something general:

  • What do you do?
  • Have you always lived in (city)?
  • Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Then listen to the answer and find something to ask a follow-up question about. Examples that correspond to above:

  • "How did you become interested in (profession)?
  • What was it like to grow up in (city or other location, depending on answer)?
  • That sounds fun! Do you (participate in activity) often?

If the other person is a good conversationalist, they will reciprocate with questions for you, but the trick is to always be looking for an opportunity to invite the other person to speak. Conversation flows naturally when each person answers a question and then asks one. But if one person really wants to monologue, and you wish to accommodate that person, just keep supplying them with questions.

0

I sometimes have the problem that I cannot break the ice starting a conversation. However, if the other person helps, then I usually do not have problems to fit in.

Here are some things that I did / do:

  • listen to the other person;
  • make acquaintance;
  • tell about yourself (choose the comfortable level of details): family, studies, work experience;
  • tell about your country;
  • tell about your hobbies;
  • ask the other person about (some) personal details, studies, hobbies, travel experiences...
  • ask the other person what he / she wants to know about;

While the other person might be curious to know about you, he / she might need to talk to somebody. Sometimes, receptionists are bored beyond imagination. Do not "cannibalize" all the talking time.


As an example of what not to do, once I served a short prank to a girl (that I had met before) in another country. She asked me about interesting things in my country.

I pretended I did not understand her intent, and started to give overviews about:

  • geography;
  • history;
  • (national) celebrities: writers, musicians, inventors...

I had some fun watching her face falling and falling. I only went on for 1-2 minutes, and then I candidly asked: "But you are probably not interested in these details. Maybe you want to know more about national specific clothes, dishes? Or something else?" She could not be happier to start asking questions about what was interesting for her, and listen to the answers.

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