THE MOST EFFECTIVE CONVERSATION STARTER

My daughter has grown up a lot in the past 10 months. She went from climbing and jumping on and off different surfaces to tirelessly running around, talking to everybody and exploring everything.

Initiating conversations with random people is her new thing. Her line is simple, yet extremely effective: “Hi, I’m Luciana. What’s your name?” I dare to say that nine out of ten people respond and, just like that, the conversation starts. “What are you doing?” is her follow-up question and that’s when I know that she’ll keep asking for more details until the person looks at me awkwardly indicating they have to move on with their day, or until she feels comfortable calling that person her best friend.

When we’re out, I can tell when she’s going to approach someone. Her eyes get bigger and her facial expressions give away her desire to figure out who this subject is and what he or she is doing. Sometimes I try to avoid the situation, but most times I fail to do so because she either pulls me back into it or just yells out her intro line and gets an answer right away.

At that point, I hold her hand and watch her curious eyes. I have to admit that I admire her personality, and sometimes I wish I had the same audacity to retrieve information from people that would otherwise ignore her.

It seems that somewhere along the path to adulthood we get stuck in conventions or “proper” ways of doing things and we forget to question. Our curiosity becomes limited and we don’t pursue our interests because we’re scared that it might derail us from the “goal.” We become a bit more introverted, reserved. Instead of asking questions, we either assume we know the answers; make pre-judgements; or we Google it, passing on the opportunity to really meet someone.

She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s one of the bravest people I know. My job is to nurture that quality instead of discourage it to the point in which it goes numb, as it has for many of us. Simultaneously, I am taking her lead and allowing myself to satisfy my curiosity to not only understand what happens around me, but also to figure out why it happens and how it affects those around me.

Reflecting back on the past ten months since I stepped foot into Experience Institute, I realize that by showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks, one grows to be the person they have the potential to become. Two more months to go.