Making Up People’s Back Stories

This post goes out to all the introverts out there as well as anyone who has difficulties talking to people they just met. I think everyone can attest to the difficulty of straddling a conversation with a new acquaintance whilst preventing a period of awkward silence or feeling like you’ve just interrogated them. Often to get over this fear, I’m sure you’ve heard the usual, ‘just be casual about it’ or ‘just ask them questions about themselves.’ However, this probably isn’t very effective for those tough nuts that only offer up mono syllable answers. I suppose you could argue that the problem lies in the questions (i.e. your questions were too closed ended).


If you’re like me, then you probably don’t have a whole lot of time to go about getting creative with your questions. What you do have is a great intuition to make quick judgments about someone the instant you lay eyes on them. As such, I propose an alternative for your awkward silence/interrogation conundrum.

Inspired by in-depth people watching sessions, my proposition lies in your ability to ‘make up said person’s back story.’ Successfully doing this will not only make the person you have just met more interesting to you, it will also make you better at continuing conversations and thereby hopefully bring you out of that introvert shell.

Brooklyn99Insider-Braugher-Holt-Agree to Participate

The best way to do this is to make up the most ridiculous back story you can that could still possibly be true with the facts that you have. This could be as simple as trying to guess ‘what planet the person came from’ to ‘pretending that they are a superhero.’

Let me walk you through an example.

I have a cousin that is notorious for mono syllable answers no matter what questions you ask him. Then one day, a fellow family member listed the following things about him:

1. He’s been acting a bit mysterious lately

2. He’s always out all night and seems to do nothing during the day

3. He gets given lots of money and yet it seems to disappear for no reason

4. He is constantly seen going to an undetermined location


Call it what you will but upon hearing this information, I decided that these facts could only mean one thing; My cousin is BATMAN. Think about it. Mysterious guy with all this money, stays out all night, does nothing during the day and is seen going to a mysterious location. It’s so obvious that he’s out at night fighting crime on the streets of Gotham whilst maintaining the life of a lazy playboy and is seen going to what must be the bat cave…

Now this it’s obvious not true (or is it…?), but you can’t deny the fact that suddenly my cousin has become a lot more interesting than the previous mono syllable answering guy. As such, upon deciding he was Batman, I was then able to consider what other areas of his back story were also possible. The point of this exercise is to then use these new found ‘facts’ in your conversation and then update the back story as you go.

Obviously, the aim of a conversation is to develop a rapport with another individual which means I probably don’t need to remind you that making up a negative back story will not help your cause. Keep it ridiculous but positive.

Joker 2

If you can do this, it will become quite easy to constantly have a conveyor belt of questions and you’ll find that your conversations are more interesting and last a lot longer. The beauty of this tactic is that the best conversations are about nothing.’ A conversation about why someone could be Batman is definitely a brilliant nothing conversation. Now go out and have some interesting conversations with people you’ve just met.



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