You CAN master the art of small talk.

I am sure, at one time or another, we have all had the dreaded feeling of attending another group function where we felt slightly awkward because we would have to stand around making small talk with people. Ever been unsure of how to keep the conversation going – me too! Even the most extroverted people, have the planned emergency “my cat is sick” or “my neighbor’s garage door is stuck” text already worked out to make their escape exit as soon as possible. Then others might avoid the function all together.

Believe it or not, these functions can be fun. Yep, I said it, fun. And if you can’t go that far, let’s just agree interesting. The key is knowing how to get and keep conversations going beyond, “Hi, sure is hot/cold/rainy isn’t it?”.

Most people enjoy talking about things they are interested in and all you have to do is kick off their topics. They will do the talking for you.  However, remember a really critical key is that you are the listening participant, so listen. Engage in the conversation with head nods, ask more questions where necessary and keep eye contact (without an impromptu stare off of course, ‘cuz that’s creepy).

Here are ten questions to get you started:

  1. What made you chose your profession? – This might be insanely insightful or they may hate what they do, but either way you can spring into more topics from here easy enough.
  2. What is now (or has been) your most meaningful way to give back in a charitable way? If they have nothing, they are a slug of society, run! I’m KIDDING!! You could let them off the hook easily by saying either you have been looking for a meaningful way to give back as well. Or even say it took you a while to find the right fit to dedicate your time in the best way. Very diplomatic way to get them out of feeling like “less than” if they aren’t currently investing time charitably.
  3. What are you reading now? If nothing, maybe ask what they have read recently? If nothing, maybe what was your favorite book in school? If they still have nothing… you are probably trying to start a conversation with the coat rack and very nonchalantly step away real cool like because you are going to look really silly.
  4. Tell me about your journey that got you here? People are fascinating and their journey is never boring. Hands down one of my favorite questions.
  5. Do you say YES or NO as a general rule? Why would you say that answer? You have no idea how much this can tell you about a person. Listen carefully.
  6. What’s one thing you have tried that you are glad you did, but won’t do again? Maybe this is skydiving? Bungee jumping? Eating monkey brains? I don’t know, but imagine what you might learn.
  7. What is the most important thing I should know about you? Can you just imagine the amazing things you will hear? Think about your own answer….. what is the most important thing you would want someone to know about you?
  8. What are you most passionate about? I love to hear what really stirs people up. Where are their dreams living?
  9. Do you have a life defining moment? There is no question or hesitation for me –  in my life, the defining moment is when I began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  Do you know yours? Aren’t you curious about others?
  10. How can I be of most help to you right now? People are genuinely touched by your true desire to be of help to them. Whether personal or professional, this could be a feasible question. They could have said something in the conversation about their charity that really appeals to you and you want to join in with your help.  Or bridge a potential business connection. Maybe you have a product that can solve their problem at work and maybe you know someone else who does you can connect them with.

It is good to keep in mind to gauge your depth of dialog by the event and be respectful of what your conversation partner is open about sharing.

These tips will have you much more comfortable with small talk, making some great connections and maybe even some amazing friends.

They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.
—Carl W. Buehner

You’ve got this!  Ashlee Gillis Vickers, CPC



February 8th – 3 years

February 8th, three years ago our lives changed forever.

In an instant every single thing we knew as reality was changed.

That’s what happened when Gerald died. The moment he collapsed in our driveway and I was left to pump his chest for blood, breathing breath into his lungs for him, things changed. A reality I had never felt before weighed heavily on us.

Gerald went nearly 15 minutes without full oxygen. And I know we weren’t alone in those moments. As clearly as I can see my hands in front of my face now, I saw Jesus standing with us saying, “This is not how your story ends.”  And it was not, because Gerald did not stay dead.  He lived.

Full cardiac arrest is what they called it.  What he had they call the “Widow Maker”.

A miracle survival.

Even through a doctor trying to tell us he was brain dead, our community believed in the power of prayer and claimed the promise I had heard, “This is not how our story ends”.

It was not. Gerald was not brain dead, he did recover and it was not how our story ends.

February 8th. Another anniversary.

Before February 8, 2015, life was not perfect and neither has it been since. But before February 8th three years ago, I had very specific prayers for my our marriage. I prayed I would be the wife I was intended to be, that I would love Gerald deeply with a daily renewed love and true desire to serve him as God called me to serve.

On 11-11-14, while studying Ephesians 5:22-24, you can read in my journal;

Dear God, Shame on me for not protecting the husband you gave me. Give me an attitude of privilege in serving him including how I respond to him regardless of how he responds to me. Let me show your love in my marriage. In Jesus name, Amen.

That was a prayer I needed because I was not treating Gerald that way. I was not serving him or loving him more than myself or our children. I pray he’s forgiven me.

For Gerald, I prayed he would be free of the crazy hard hours he had to work that were tearing down his body and aging him way too fast. I had prayed very specifically Gerald would stop drinking and smoking. But mostly, for fifteen years, I had been praying Gerald would meet Jesus in a very personal way and know eternal salvation.

I prayed for our marriage to be whole and quite literally, survive. Things weren’t grand and we weren’t strong. We were not both rooted nor collectively grounded in Christ. We were a boat cast onto the rocks in a real life way, and I am not sure either of us were aware of a way to fix things. There is no doubt in my mind we wanted to, but the obstacles seemed insurmountable.

And yet, another February 8th coming and going since everything changed.

In full disclosure, sometimes, life post heart attack isn’t easy, if I am being totally honest with you and with myself. I lose my patience and forget all the promises I made while he was in the Critical Care Unit about he could do whatever he wanted and I would never get aggravated at him again. (Unfortunately there are witnesses to those statements.) Y’all, I just get tired and weary and deeply need reminding that my job to care for my husband is more important than my desire to manage him. (ouch.)

No magic wand sprinkled fairy dust. There has been no over night fix. Life is still hard and there are an entirely new sets of demons to battle I wasn’t even aware to pray for. New obstacles and a new life on earth, prior to heavenly glory, we are left to weed through here. I get frustrated and I want to complain about this new normal some days. Oh, how quickly we forget where God has brought us from, don’t we?

Yet such a patient God we serve. In my time alone with God, He has nudged me to realize… I didn’t ask Him HOW to answer my prayers, I simply wanted him to do the things.  However, and any way, that He would.  Just please do them.  And here, three years later, I can only say God in fact delivered on all my deepest desires from before. And, yes, I believe He will do it again.

My heart for Gerald is very pure and servant minded. Gerald is healed, sober, met Jesus personally and destined to spend eternity in heaven. PRAISE GOD!

Three February 8ths. Another anniversary.

We are all continually growing and God needed to remind me that when I ask for things, I will find thankfulness in the way He gives trusting that He knows what is best for me and my family. [Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes 5:18]  I have to believe even when the road seems hard and I don’t understand why, God knows all reasons and promises complete healing in heaven. Perfection promised in eternity with our Savior.

He already knows how our story will end, He has measured our steps and through His saving grace all will be for His Glory.

In His Grip, Ashlee

Pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father God, Thank you for saving Gerald physically and spiritually and for saving our marriage. Your love for us is so precious that you would reach down and touch our lives in such a tender way. Please keep our focus on you and your blessings, not allowing us to waste a single moment of the time you have given us. May we use all we have to glorify you and tell others of your saving grace.  In Jesus name, Amen.

*photos from video reenactment “Twice Saved” (in progress). Producer/Videographer: Cameron Evans