Here you are again, at a complete loss for words.
Perhaps you accidentally made eye contact with your rag-clad caddy. Or maybe you have to woo a jury of your peers’ subordinates while on trial for insider trading.
Even for a down-to-earth tycoon like you, making relatable conversation can be a challenge when you have so little in common with commoners.
But struggle no more! These relationship-building conversation starters will help you learn to earn 100% in your small talk with the 99%.
Go ahead and give ‘em a try, big shot!
1. When you overhear your cleaning lady on the phone, explaining to her husband that she can’t afford health insurance
“I get it, Wanda. Health insurance is really expensive. Honestly, I think some of the horses are just going to have to go without it this year.”*
*Illustrate your empathy by giving her a conciliatory pat on the back, as you would one of the horses
2. When you want to make small talk at your son’s girlfriend’s family barbecue, but there are no gourmet Italian cheeses to discuss and so you must improvise
“Everyone! Have your tried the American cheese? Such elastic mouthfeel! Just yesterday, I didn’t even know America made cheese and now it might be my favorite kind!”
3. When you’re trying to look cool in front of your son’s Habitat for Humanity volunteer friends who aren’t just doing it to get into Harvard
“I agree with Bernie Sanders.”
4. When you’re sitting on the board at an education nonprofit and someone who actually works in education shows up
“I’ve always believed that America’s real heroes are the educators and caregivers. To this date, my au pair is the only woman I’ve ever loved…”
5. When you overhear a college student complaining about insurmountable debts
“You know, my great, great grandfather didn’t even go to college. He just took over the old family business. A CEO without a degree – imagine that! And for his time, he was a progressive man. Wouldn’t dream of discriminating. In fact, he exclusively employed immigrants in the mines…”
6. When you want to convey to your poolside waiter that, like him, you’re really just a ‘”casual dude”
“Sometimes I eat sandwiches using only my hands.”
7. When a groveling employee discloses to you that after taxes, she isn’t earning a living wage
“Taxes, taxes, taxes! Am I right, Janet!? If you saw my tax returns, you’d be shocked over how much I have to pay. It’s robbery. Now I can’t show them to you, but trust me, Janet. They’re shocking.”
8. When you want to build blue-collar camaraderie with the construction workers remodeling your back-up kitchen
“Most people don’t know this, but I used to work in construction. I really miss getting my hands dirty. Back in college, dad gave me a grueling internship over at Halliburton doing HR…”
9. When a local charity asks your corporation to donate to their youth arts program
“I already support the arts. My ex-wife thinks she’s a painter.”*
*Put hand on shoulder of commoner and laugh heartily