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Some questions, like ‘What’s the meaning of life?’, are difficult to answer because they’re, well, difficult. However, there’s also the other end of the spectrum. I’m talking about questions that are so basic, you start wondering if the people who came up with them are alright. Recently, reddit user waldo06 asked the internet ‘What’s something you can’t believe you had to explain to another adult?’ and the responses started pouring in. It has received 15k upvotes and 11,462 comments in just days, proving that we all sometimes suffer from brainis fartis.
Interestingly, when it comes to useless questions, “How are you?” is one of them. When you think about it, it makes sense since the person asking doesn’t really want to know, and the person responding doesn’t bother telling the truth.
But, according to Harvard researchers, the key to mastering small talk is to simply ask the other person follow-up questions. After analyzing more than 300 online conversations, the researchers found that those who were asked more meaningful follow-up questions (those that aren’t “how are you?” or “what do you do?”), found the other person much more likable.
“When people are instructed to ask more questions, they are perceived as higher in responsiveness, an interpersonal construct that captures listening, understanding, validation and care,” the researchers said.
At first, it can be tricky moving beyond the “hourly update” (traffic, sports, weather…), but try to get to things that are more important and personal to you.
If you’re still not sure where to start, share some news that actually happened to you, for example, “I adopted a pet.”
Lastly, don’t forget to commit to the moment and observe your surroundings. That means opening your eyes before you open your mouth. Find something to focus on in what’s around you, like the piece of art on the wall, a quirky gadget on the table, there has to be something. It might ignite small talk and help lead the conversation into unique follow-up questions.
That drinks have caloric content. A coworker was complaining how she was having trouble losing weight and didn’t realize drinking 4 hot chocolates a day was not really conducive to weight loss.
I had to explain to a lady that dinosaur bones at the Museum of Natural History in DC were real. She thought dinosaurs were mythical creatures…not real.
That you can’t get aids through sexual intercourse if you don’t already have the HIV virus inside your body or your partner is carrying it. A guy I talked to once thought that gay men got AIDS simply by having gay sex, and that the disease just spontaneously appeared through the act of inter-anal insemination. I don’t even think that he understood the concept of a virus.
Had a coworker who said she didn’t eat eggs because they’re “forced abortion babies”… Chick refused to accept that unfertilized eggs don’t hatch and she didn’t have to worry because she’s just eating the chickens’ periods. After this conversation carried on far too long, she proceeded to eat a bowl of pasta that I’m 97% sure was made with eggs.
That dropping “water bombs” on the Notre Dame fire is [frikkin] stupid. He just wasn’t hearing it, because of course I couldn’t know more about firefighting than the president… I’m a firefighter, I was in uniform.
You have no idea the number of people that believe we are a part of Mexico.
Food isn’t vegetarian just because it has vegetables in it, and lack of vegetables doesn’t automatically mean it isn’t vegetarian.
Story time. I went to a restaurant and was looking over the menu, which had vegetarian friendly options marked. Pretzels with cheese weren’t marked, so I asked the waitress if she knew why. If it was just something in the cheese, I still wanted to split the pretzels with others at the table and skip the cheese dip. Her answer? “Well, it’s like, um, so pretzels don’t have any vegetables like broccoli in them, they’re just bread, so they aren’t vegetarian. But if you wanted something that is, then you could maybe get the chicken and broccoli because it does have a vegetable with it. But like the mac and cheese wouldn’t be because it doesn’t have vegetables.” Mac and cheese was marked vegetarian friendly.
I once had to explain to a college friend that Indians didn’t have spices running in their blood that allows them to eat spicier food.
That Halloween has never and will never fall on Friday the 13th. It was my mom.
An ex was convinced that the reason the ozone layer is thinning is because airplanes poke holes in as they pass through. No telling her otherwise.
“Well, sir, it’s not illegal to serve food that tastes bad….No, this isn’t a police issue”.
Had to explain to a female friend of mine that she doesn’t have to take out her tampon to pee because it’s two completely different holes.
Had to explain to a neighbor that the sun and the moon were not the same thing.
Every St Patrick’s day in San Antonio they dye the river green. I work hospitality and I had a middle age woman asking me if she could drink the water from the River. I laughed thinking it was a joke but she was really serious about it and got mad saying I was being condescending. I told her no, you should not drink that water and she said that since there was green beer she thought the river could be beer. I reminded her there are ducks living there and I don’t think the city wanted drunk ducks going around downtown. She called corporate saying I insulted her. She was not drunk.
You can’t/shouldn’t iron your clothes while you’re wearing them. One guess as to how this came up.
That the North Pole is an actual place on the planet and not just a mythical place where Santa and his Elves live. Also had to explain that the South Pole is real.
Granted, they did not think Santa is real. But they also didn’t believe me flat out about the poles, they first argued saying I was crazy and then Googled it.
Press up when you want to go up in the elevator and down if you want to go down. She thought you had to guess where the elevator was and if it was under you lets say, you had to press up.
When you travel at 60mph you will cover sixty miles in an hour.
At my work a lady wanted a hamburger but with cheese on it. I said “Oh, so you want a cheeseburger”
The lady said “No, I said a hamburger with cheese on it”
I said “That’s called a cheeseburger”
Lady screams “No!! I want a damn hamburger!!!!! with cheese on it!!!”
Turn off the high beams for cars traveling in the opposite direction.
How to use packing tape! You haven’t lived until you’ve told a 40 year old man to put the sticky side on the box.
There are more than 6 bones in the human body… she thought it was head, back, arms and legs.
That Spain is a real place.
That not everyone who speaks Spanish is a Mexican. And that Mexicans are called that because they’re from Mexico.
That titties and boobies are not the anatomical words for breasts.
“No, you should not perform an auto-vasectomy at home. You should see a doctor for that”
Had to explain to my 26 year old coworker that the moon does not in fact emit its own light and is simply glowing from the reflection of the sunlight
That chickens can lay eggs without a rooster around. My dad and grandma kept trying to tell me there HAS to be a rooster or they don’t lay. I got to explain that to have fertilized eggs you need a rooster but regular eggs for eating don’t need a rooster
That Australia and India do not “share a border.”
Had to explain to a 40 year old woman that the clitoris and “pee hole” are different.
If you’ve found a dog and are making a sign it should say “found dog” not “lost dog”
That our sun is a star. It was one of the things that made me say out loud “seriously?”
You shouldn’t put scotch in your baby’s formula.
My friend worked at Office Depot and had to explain to a customer why he couldn’t make him photocopies of a 20 dollar bill
If you don’t go to work you won’t get paid, especially when you’re constantly complaining about always being broke. You can’t call out whenever you don’t want to go in, and then wonder why you have no money.
That getting a bunch of morning after pills from the student health center and having me take one every time we had unprotected sex was a recipe for disaster. And before you ask, he grew up in the Bay Area and was the child of two professors, so it’s not because of a lack of access to sex ed.
Had to explain to my wife that pickles were made of cucumbers
She didn’t believe me, still not sure she does
That milk comes from a cow the same color as you see it in the carton and is not in fact actually red milk that has been dyed white in the factory
A coworker of mine recently quit without notice. A few weeks later, she wasn’t liking her new job much and said she wanted to come back to the store. She could not comprehend the concept of being ineligible for rehire. If you quit without notice, they’re not going to take you back!
To make pasta you have to boil the water
That a prairie dog and a coyote are 2 different animals, this was a high school teacher.
Retirement is something you have to actually prepare for. Magic money does not create itself in a fund that you never started.
I am a manufacturing engineer and had to explain to a 33 year old engineering technician what a nut, bolt and washer were Friday.
This is just the icing on her grossly incompetent cake, and I have been logging these incidents with the intent of firing her Monday morning.
A dear friend of mine phoned his mother, on his first week away at college, to ask her how you cooked eggs. He was having trouble working the shells in. He wasn’t kidding.
You can’t use an electric blanket to dry your bedsheets.
i was explaining to my ex girlfriends brother that i will be travling to hawaii he asked “can you drive or do you have to take a plane to get there?” he’s 35
Alcohol has calories.
I had to be the one to tell my friend when she was in her mid-20s that the vodka she loved has calories. She was so shocked and said, “What!! I thought since it was clear like water it didn’t have any calories.”
That Michigan wasn’t the capital of Detroit and that Jerusalem, not Jewersilum exists. My former best friend was and still is the dumbest person I’ve ever met.
There’s a girl I used to work with who didn’t know submarines actually existed.
That all babies, including the first one after marriage, take 9-10 months to develop. Just because the first one comes along in under 9 months, doesn’t mean that it takes less gestational time.
I was in my mid twenties, and she was several years older.
Had to explain to someone in college that “3 seconds of dish soap” was not necessary for each plate you wash. As in he would turn the dish soap upside down, and squeeze for “1…2…3”. For. Each. Plate
6 inches isn’t 0.6 of a foot. She had been slowly, unknowingly, overcharging our company for materials for years.
Pasta does not grow on trees.
Mybe she was an adult yet though, but she definitely wasn’t a kid either. Late teen I suppose.
I work with this guy who thinks that average precipitation us, like… Some sort of quota that nature is obliged to meet. For example, if it’s a particularly dry summer, he thinks it will just rain a lot in the last few days before summer ends.
How to use a new type of electric hand-drying machine (mounted on the wall) in a public men’s room.
The guy tried everything to make it work, other than following the simple instructions on the hand-dryer (it even had arrows pointing the way where his hands should be inserted to activate it).
That’s having sex on your period doesn’t automatically create AIDS. One of the two people need to already have AIDS.
You have to use water to cook rice in a pan
My mother told me nobody can live on $40,000 (USD) a year, and I was unable to get her to understand that it is pretty normal to make $40,000 or less and people do fine with that salary.
I had to explain to my friend that we didn’t actually gain an hour of sunlight when we changed the clocks in the spring.
No you can’t put that metal pan in the microwave . He was also driving a golf cart with my other friend and when he was close to hitting something he hopped out and tried pushing it away. Other friend hit the brake.
That raisins are dried grapes