Flying Solo, Part 2

So you wanna chat 

Conversations with strangers is fun, and weird, but mostly fun. 

If you feel like you might be open to conversation with other solos, or the elderly (they’re always up for a chat) sit at a communal table. It’s one of the best places for polite conversation or an opportune meet-cute. 

The communal tables is also where the majority of reading material is stored, so if you feel like todays the day you’re ready to look up (from your screen), this is your spot.

If you’re new to the solo mingle, it’s relatively easy. Make eye contact and smile. BOTH. You can’t make eye contact and not smile - you’ll send the wrong message, it will seem territorial and scream only-child. Welcome the other solos with a gentle smile (more Kate Winslet, less Cameron Diaz) and go back to your reading, eating, coffee-drinking, preferbly tech-free zone. 

Remember not to go out to talk AT someone. 

Not everyone on their own is looking for a conversation. Take the subtle hints. If you’re out because you’re lonely, thats great. The barista, and bar staff are expert conversationalists. But anticipate the fact that not everyone else is. Some people are out by themselves to getaway - and not talk. Particularly if they’re out by themselves. Solo is  a choice - not exile. 

How to read the signs

If someone is sitting at a corner table, reading or working intensely - they’re probably not up for a chat. If they catch your eye a few times, sure go for it. But if they haven’t taken their eyes off the object of fascination in the time you’ve been semi-stalking them - leave them for another day, another cafe. C’est La Vie.

it's definitely not ok.

  • Spurring conversation with sarcasm, eg. 'chatty one aren't you' ....

  • There aren't any clever segues from 'pass the sugar' ...

The Art of Conversation

Ideas +  discussions +  listening

This is the basic formula of a conversation, the essentials, the non-essentials, the funny and the awkward. 

1. Listening

The real secret to a successful conversation are questions and listening. If all parties are asking questions it's assumed the questions are a result of actual listening and thinking about what someone else has said- not just biding time until one can talk about themselves. Again. 


Another key element is the ability to have a discussion - to explore the what if's and maybe's about life, good discussions aren't built on definitives - that would be an argument or debate. An argument, pushing your opinions on people, or simply talking about why you're right and someone else is wrong, is not a conversation. 

conversation 101

Talk. Pause. LISTEN & Pay attention. Acknowledge. Respond accordingly. 

Beware: That Guy

Look out for That Guy. He’s the same guy that hangs out in the communal lunch room in the office, or catches you as you’re jingling your keys, clearly anxious to get on your merry way. That guy that misses the subtle cues you’re not really up for a chat, or quite keen to leave, or just plain don't want to talk to him. Surprise surprise, That Guy is also at your coffee shop. He usually sits at the communal table and taaaaaaalks, it’s like he’s just waiting for another solo to mosey over to enjoy the easy-breezy communal table, then once they’re settled - BAM, he pounces. Unfortulately this probably isn't the type of conversaton you’re looking for; his last trip ‘abroad’, to fiji, & the mole on his shoulder. 

He’s the guy the locals stay away from, but the poor, unsuspecting newbies like yourself just won't see it coming until it’t too late. 

Also, don’t be That Guy.  

Stick to the basic conversation.

Appropriate topics

  • Greetings

  • Polite commentary on the venue and quality of coffee

  • The business of the day: financial, political, economical

  • Enquire about the weather outside

Depending on the enthusiasm with which the above topics were discussed and received from your stranger, if the conversation flows & they are reciprocal of your chattiness, venture into; 

  • What they would recommend on the menu

  • Occupation

  • If they live locally

Inappropriate topics

  • Guessing someones age, relationship status, or why there there solo

  • Religion, conspiracy theories & extremist opinions

  • How many times a week they workout

  • If they’re open to the idea of being a model for your new interest in (nude) figure drawing.

NEXT: Flying SOLO Part 3. Cue, The Meet Cute