In his book A Moveable Feast, the great American writer Ernest Hemingway, admits to the struggle that even the most devoted and talented writers face: what to write.
“…sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence and go on from there. It was easy then…”
Sometimes striking up a conversation can be just as basic as this. Wherever you are, wherever there are people, very often the beginning of your next amazing exchange requires only that you to take one simple step. And there are actually some choices as to what these could be:
- Smile and introduce yourself. “Hello, I’m Patti…”
- Make an observatory statement. “Oh my gosh, the bagels today are so good!”
- Ask one good question. “What’s new in your world?”
Of course, coming up with your versions of these options is where your own initiative and creativity come in. Hemingway made it implicitly clear that it had to be true for him. Likewise, whatever method you use and whatever you say must feel true to you.
Sound overly simple? Or ironically challenging? Maybe it’s both. But I urge you to give it a try. Just as the world is a better place for Hemingway’s efforts, so will the world be a better, brighter, friendlier place for your next conversation.
Patti, what great advice! You have reminded us that connecting with others doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. Although I’m very extroverted, I also have very strong introverted tendencies, so I guess I’m an ambivert like you. Keeping it simple, as you suggest, removes the feeling of overwhelm. Thanks for a great reminder not to over-complicate things.
Thank you Patti! Thinking about one true thing is also a great way for us to check in with ourselves. What is our truth for the day. We reflect it out to the world, we may as well be aware of it.