TODAY   |  April 28, 2014

What to talk about in an elevator or at a party

Authors Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker join TODAY to talk about their new book, “What to Talk About,” and offer advice on how to connect with others in more meaningful ways in almost any kind of situation.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we've all been in those situations, where it's in an elevator or a cocktail party , where you start to feel a little awkward because you just don't know what to say.

>> even the most tongue-tied can become pros with starting a conversation with chris collins and rob bedeker. why is small talk so difficult?

>> even the smoothest among us hits a wall sometimes. either we have a hard time talking with a stranger or making more interesting conversation with someone we know very well.

>> but it's a great opportunity, right? lots of stories out there.

>> opportunity is key, though, whether you wait too late or too long to make the move to talk.

>> there's a critical window.

>> what's that?

>> seven seconds.

>> yeah, we've measured it. no, we haven't.

>> it sounds true.

>> we're in an elevator. my strategy is look up at the numbers. make sure they're going in in order.

>> mine is look down at my feet.

>> those are understandable. but remember, we only pass this way once. life is short. these are our fellow humans. you know, sometimes we don't want to talk, but sometimes it's okay to push ourselves.

>> how do you start it out?

>> elevators are not normal. they're weird.

>> so you have to have an abnormal personality.

>> so just walk on and go hello, everybody?

>> you can do that. we like to take a survey. good morning, everyone, i know it's only 9:00, but hands up if you've done something you regret already.

>> people are more okay with it than you would think. another thing, you can bond these strangers by sharing some goals. good morning, folks. what do you say we go around the horn and each share something we want to achieve today? i would love to make it to 5:00 --

>> ding!

>> what floor are you going to? how tall is the building?

>> you can pull out the button and make it stop if you want to finish what you're saying.

>> how long is this elevator ride?

>> you have to sometimes go down.

>> let's go to the cocktail party . and we see willie geist there.

>> hey, guys. this water's crazy, huh?

>> that's really good.

>> so what do we do?

>> was that good?

>> it was pretty good.

>> i don't think it was very good, but that's something we can talk about. we can talk about how bad that was.

>> it was the worst.

>> you mentioned the weather. classic small talk topic. but the key here is to ask for stories, not answers. so we're all used to saying, how you doing? it's a dead end ? you got to ask for a story. so if i ask chris, hey, what did you do tonight before coming to the party?

>> well, i gave my wife three hugs and i ate nine pancakes.

>> there you go.

>> how about the what if game? or would you rather?

>> nothing wrong with having a game in your back pocket.

>> we like, would you rather give up caffeine or gluten for the rest of your life? you have to pick one.

>> you just walk up to a stranger and say that to someone? i could never do that. really?

>> they might step back for a moment.

>> airplane. this is a tough one. so you're in the airplane seat. and that's always kind of tough. first, there's a whole --

>> well, we're flying first class here.

>> of course.

>> i always put a headset on and pretend i'm asleep. i mean, people have to make that conversation.

>> that's fine, but remember, this is a fellow human. this person could be a future best friend.

>> so strike up a conversation and have an experience is the bottom line.

>> have an experience.

>> for more tips, go to we're back in a moment. but first, this is "today" on nbc.

>>> the pink ladies are in the house.

>> that's right, the pink ladies.

>> yes, indeed. we have julie andrews with us today. so we are excited.

>> and george clooney is getting married. oh, my gosh. test. test. test. test.