The Power of Sparking a Conversation

The next time you’re beside someone, forget the instinct to browse on your phone. Instead, have some friendly banter, and you’ll be shocked about how much you gained from it

Fatimah Hussain
6 min readJun 28, 2021
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

My mom is an expert on making connections. Any chance she’s with or close to another human, she’ll somehow spark up a conversation. And that conversation would be on a wide spectrum. The weather, the stock market. And when we’re traveling, the best restaurants to eat at, any attractions, really anything.

This was something I continuously admired about my mom. How she was able to turn silence into spark. From a young age, my mom always could do things that I couldn’t even think about doing. She’s outgoing and her social battery seemed to last forever in conversations.

Believe me, I tried learning her techniques. But I just didn’t know how to start a conversation. I thought, “I can’t just like randomly talk to someone? They’re probably going to think I’m weird or something”. In my eyes, this was undeniable. But this never concerned my mom in the slightest. When I asked her for her advice, she told me to “not overthink it and it’ll flow on its own”. But she told me to also not force a conversation. If it’s clear that the other person doesn’t want to take part, don’t make them.

About a week or so ago, my family and I had a flight to take. I, my brother, and a stranger sat in one row, my parents and my baby brother in another. The duration of the flight was supposedly quite short, two hours.

I sat next to the stranger. She was maybe in her early 20’s, and was doing work on her laptop. I didn’t bother on having friendly banter, since we’d almost be arriving to the terminal and she seemed busy.

As I was taking a nap, we heard a ding. I woke up. The pilot had announced that there would be thunderstorms in the path of our destination, so we’d have to wait for them to clear up.

After thirty minutes, the airplane had to land to refuel, and we still had an hour left to our destination. The refueling process took a while. My brother insisted on switching seats with my mother, for a reason I can’t recall. She agreed. I went back to my nap, with a stranger and my mom on either seat of me.

For safety purposes, I will not be saying the states where we were flying to and from.

Within seconds, my mom asked the stranger, “Where are you flying from?”

“I’m flying from {state}! How about you?”

“Cool! We’re flying from {another state}”

“Wow! That’s mighty of a distance!”

So that was phase 1. Finding a similarity that you and the stranger had. In this case, it was flying in an airplane.

My mom initiated phase 2: Summer life. This was something broader, but one thing was similar: both traveling someplace — the same place.

I wasn’t able to nap, since the conversation over my middle seat eagered me. The woman had said she is working a tech job for a big company and was soon moving there.

The crazy thing? It’d turn out that she’d be moving so close to where my family and I lived!

Now THIS woke me up.

This woman was so ambitious and interesting. I “woke up” and continued listening to the conversation.

Then, the woman pointed out another similarity. She told my mom how her siblings acted just like mine, and divulged into a story on how siblings can be annoying but you will always be thankful for them in the end.

Watching this witness before my eyes was quite the speculation. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that if my mom hadn’t sparked a conversation with the woman sitting next to me, I wouldn’t have learned all the incredible things that the woman had accomplished and wouldn’t have connected with her.

Alas, my mom introduced me to the woman, and she and I sparked up a conversation. I’m not going to lie, it was a tad hard for me to do so. It had come so naturally to my mom, and here I was struggling to form sentences to communicate with the woman.

But I loved every second of our conversations on the airplane. We’d talked about women in STEM, internships, and hobbies, and her upcoming new job! She was the type of person I’d look up to, with so much going for her and so much she’d done in her life. And she was equally impressed by me, I could tell. She told me that everything I’ve been doing was so creative and golden, and then she’d want to see me grow into a successful woman.

Those words never stopped making me blush (and increase my ego a tad), and she followed me on social media since she wanted to be up to date with everything I’d be doing.

She also connected me with her sister, who is also very STEM-driven and one of the coolest people I’d ever met.

In fact, both of them were so darn cool and talented.

But to be brutally honest, none of this would have happened if my mom didn’t spark up a conversation.

And that’s when I realized the power of sparking up a conversation. But not only that, listening to the other person with grave interest and dexterity.

I haven’t realized, until that moment, how detrimental it is to talk to others. Whether it is an elbow partner, or a person in the window seat on an airplane, it doesn’t hurt to spark up a conversation.

And there is absolutely nothing to lose if you do so. What’s the worst that can happen? The only thing I can come up with is no reply. And any conversation you have, I guarantee you, you will enjoy it. And you will be happy that you met the person. But most of all, you will be proud of yourself for initiating the conversation.

On the other hand, there is just so much to lose if you don’t spark up a conversation. You will miss out on a chance to talk to this person you’ll probably only meet once. You will miss out on creating connections, which are terribly important in life. You will miss out on learning about the person, and vice versa. And you’ll miss out on a good time.

But why deal with that, when you can just…

spark up the conversation!

No, but seriously, conversations are essential to get you far in life, and are a key starter to make connections with others.

And it can be a little difficult or overwhelming at first, but that’s just your mind playing tricks on you. Hustle out there, take the leap, and spark up a conversation. It’s now become a subconscious asset in my life, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without learning about this.

But of course, all credits go to my mom.

And yes, I’m still in touch with the utterly talented woman I met on the plane and would have deeply regretted not to spark up a conversation with her.

Instead of pulling out your phone to play Candy Crush or surf the internet, talk to the person next to you. Talk to the grandma, the CEO, the 10-year-old baseball fanatic, next to you.

And I promise you,

you’ll learn so much, and you won’t regret it.

Personal Note

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Fatimah Hussain

An AI+ML+CAD Software Design Enthusiast. Striving to Create an Everlasting Impact.