How To Survive a Conversation . . .

I'm going to give you a life tip here today, folks. Truly. Something you can carry in to any situation (say a job interview) and use to survive. It is called Agree, Agree, Ponder/Disagree, Agree. Here's how it works:

  1. You are having a conversation about (or something comes up mid conversation) that you know NOTHING about. I'm talking BLANK knowledge base to pull from (say me talking about ANYTHING overtly manly).
  2. You panic and admit defeat.
  3. I'm kidding. NEVER SURRENDER. Here's what you do:
  • Agree
  • Agree
  • Ponder/Disagree
  • Agree
And you're done. What the hell am I talking about? Let me give you an example:

PERSON 1: How about that Columbian drug cartel? We really should intervene as a world leader, right?
YOU: Yes (agree).
PERSON 1: I mean we are a global superpower for a reason and half that snow lands on our coast anyway.
YOU: Sure does. Big problem. (agree)
PERSON 1: It might cost a billion dollars a year but it is money well spent.
YOU: Well. We have a lot of other priorities to consider so I might not be in for a billion. (ponder/disagree)
PERSON 1: I'm just saying that we shouldn't think so cheaply as we face our demons.
YOU: Damn right. 'Muhhrikuh! (agree)

STILL not convinced:

PERSON 1: I can't believe Manti T'eo didn't know he was being duped by that little sick girl.
YOU: I know, right? (agree)
PERSON 1: I mean he's an adult male in the digital era. He couldn't find anything about her but he went along?
YOU: Silly and hard to believe (agree)
PERSON 1: He was probably in on it. I've even heard rumors he had his own stuff to hide (raises eyebrows)
YOU: Well. I don't know about all that. I just think the whole thing is unfortunate (ponder/disagree)
PERSON 1: Either way. It's going to hurt his status in the draft, especially after the recent combine.
YOU: Agreed. I hope Johnny Football down there at A&M has a better sophomore season.

And BAM! You'll note that, in both cases, the point of the ponder/disagree is to allow you to introduce something you DO know something about so that the conversation might quickly turn to that. And it usually will. Example:

PERSON 1: I think my butt may look big in these pants.
YOU: I'd have to take a closer look. Stand up. (agree - to perhaps agree)
PERSON 1: I mean I've been eating a lot of deep fried mac and cheese with ranch dressing lately and I can't quit nightly milkshakes.
YOU: That is probably not the best diet in the world. (agree)
PERSON 1: I'm just getting fat and out of control.
YOU: Well. I don't think you are fat and I don't think those pants are particularly unflattering either. But if you don't feel great about yourself, you might think about how you could feel better. (ponder/disagree)
PERSON 1: You're probably right. But, seriously, don't let me have a milkshake later.
YOU: It is a promise.
PERSON 1: You seem fairly confident despite your balding head, your obese body, your marital status and your employment status. What's your secret.
YOU: Well . . . 

See. BAM! Back to something you can talk about.

Try this out. Try being on both sides of the equation. It can/will not fail. (One disclaimer - it might take longer to move on but keep following the 2, 1, 1 pattern and you'll be fine). 

You're welcome, kids. You. Are. Welcome.