I love shopping at Trader Joe, not just because of their unique food items, but because it’s always a chance to observe how well the cashiers initiate conversation. They are well-known for staffing their stores with people who thrive at small talk. Chitchat is encouraged. Every time I check out, someone inevitably starts a casual conversation with me.. “Check out” an example:
Trader Joe: Hi, how’s your Tuesday going?
Me: Good, how are you?
Trader Joe: It’s going well, thanks. I see you’re buying X, have you tried it with some Y? They make a great combination, especially if you like Z.
Me: No, I haven’t…but maybe I’ll try that next time.
Trader Joe: I don’t buy it a lot, but the last time I bought it for my girlfriend and she loved it…I probably should buy again soon, her birthday’s coming up and I wasn’t sure what to do.
Me: I’m not a great cook so we always go out for my wife’s birthday.
The conversation was flowing. Let’s break down the previous interaction into digestible pieces:
1. Ask how they’re doing.
2. Make an observation that introduces an interesting nugget. The interesting nugget opens up more options for conversation.
3. Share some light self-disclosure and the other person may share as well.
4. Ask a question about what they disclosed, or disclose something related.
The aforementioned interaction follows a structure common to almost all initial small talk interactions. Don’t over-complicate it.
Stay social, my friends.