Small Talk to Make the Season Bright

This past Tuesday I ran into an acquaintance at the Post Office who turned around in line and said to me, without preamble, “I hate Christmas.”

Well, ok, then.

While I recognize many of you may not feel quite this negative about the holidays, I also know some of you might be experiencing some low-level dread about upcoming interactions with ‘loved ones’. (As I’m sure you’ve discovered, it’s quite possible to love people but remain uncertain about whether or not you like them.)

What can you do to help grease the verbal wheels when you’re feeling fraught? I gift you with the phrase, “What does that look like?”

Here’s how this might work:

You, struggling to talk to someone you haven’t seen in some time, ask, “So what have you been doing with your free time?”

(Gift with purchase: this is another a great phrase to have in your back pocket. I guarantee the answers to it are far more interesting than the ones you get when you ask, “How’s work?” At any rate…)

To which the person you’re speaking with responds, “Well, I’ve been working out a lot.”


But not to worry! Here is where you drop in, “So what does that look like?”

At which point, you may find out it looks like jiu jitsu 7 days a week or it looks like step aerobics on Thursdays—the specifics don’t matter.

What matters is that asking “What does that look like?” reassures the person you are speaking with that you are genuinely interested in the answer to your question—and it is this interest that will light them up, thereby helping to make both your seasons bright.


I was so sad to learn of the death of Oribe, the Grand Master Flash of hair, this past week. I was blessed to meet and work with him a few years ago, which inspired this post, “Charisma is Contagious” Oribe’s charisma was b.e.y.o.n.d. —yours can be, too. For more on how to make that happen, take a look.