The Unexpected Benefits Of Podcasting
How to Improve Your Life By Launching a Podcast -- Or At Least Pretending To!
With the lifting of most COVID restrictions across the country, many of us are beginning to breathe a long-awaited (unmasked) sigh of relief as we try to “get back to normal.” Even if that “normal” means a daily slog in traffic or on a crowded subway just to arrive at a depressing, fluorescent-lit office and realize that it’s only at home that you’re allowed to work in your pajamas.
The workplace “normal” also means forgoing Zoom calls to once again attend in-person staff meetings. Unfortunately now, whenever your boss starts droning on about the usual managerial blather, you can no longer distract yourself by casually clicking “mute” and turning your attention to more pressing matters like the day’s Wordle puzzle.
So yes, the drawing down of pandemic restrictions will involve more in-person human contact. Yet many of us find ourselves unprepared, having forgotten important strategies for dealing with other people face-to-face — perhaps no more important strategy than knowing how to extricate ourselves from unwanted conversations.
During the pandemic we all had a ready excuse for scampering away from one another. After all, “social distancing” is a subjective concept — those signs on the supermarket floor or at Starbucks may suggest staying at least six feet apart, but perhaps you’re more comfortable staying, say, 20 feet apart. Or 1000. COVID meant never having to say you’re sorry before bolting from the scene whenever someone tried to talk to you.
Dreaming Of Escape
In the past I always thought I could get nearly anyone to flee by shifting the conversation to boring topics — say, talking about my latest health woes, complaining about all the work piling up on my desk or describing at length a dream I had the night before (“I was walking through my house, but it wasn’t really my house, at least it didn’t look like my house, you know?”). Except recently I’ve found that many of the people I want to get away from are themselves also extremely boring, and welcome these conversations so they can talk about THEIR health problems, all the work THEY have to do and the crazy dream THEY had the night before (“I was driving in my car, but it wasn’t really my car, at least it didn’t look like my car, you know?”).
Thankfully, I’ve happened upon a new subject I can bring up that’s almost 100 percent effective at driving off virtually anyone not physically tied down: my podcast. It’s actually quite remarkable. Dropping into the conversation a simple, “Did you know I have a podcast?” or “I was just talking about that topic on my podcast” instantly evokes that universally recognizable “Oh no” look on the other person’s face as they begin casting their eyes around the room for the nearest exit or possibly a fire alarm to pull. They’re often so distracted they don’t even think to ask how the subject came up on my podcast of their dream about being in a car that wasn’t REALLY their car.
This epiphany didn’t come to me by accident. I DO have a podcast — two, actually — but I won’t bother telling you about them because I want you to finish reading this column. Much as I AM tempted…
No Podcast? No Problem!
But if you don’t have a podcast, don’t sweat it – you can still use this strategy. Because let’s face it, no one’s going to call you out for lying. It’s not like hosting a podcast is some elite activity restricted to only the select few who passed a rigorous test or received special dispensation from the Pope. You’ll never tell someone you host a podcast and have them respond with, “You? A podcast? I don’t think so.” A much more likely response is, “You? A podcast? I don’t think I want to stick around to hear about it.”
“Ah,” I can sense you thinking already, “what do I do when I’m talking to someone I DON’T want to chase away? Should I pointedly avoid the topic of podcasts, possibly going so far as to say ‘Podcast, what’s a podcast?’ even if the subject of podcasts hasn’t come up?”
You might think so, but it’s actually the opposite. If you want to keep someone’s attention, instead of merely saying that you have a podcast, which will likely send them scurrying off, you should mention your podcast in the context of asking the other person to appear as a guest. “That’s so interesting,” you might say. “You should come on my podcast to talk about it.”
Because while no one cares that you have a podcast, nearly everyone is flattered to be invited on to a podcast. And again, it doesn’t matter whether you actually have a podcast to make good on the invitation. Casually inviting someone to be a guest on your podcast commits you about as much as RSVPing “maybe” to an evite for a former coworker’s pregnant guinea pig’s gender reveal party.
Frankly, I find this discovery of mine so compelling that I want to share the epiphany with the world. And I know just how – by launching a new podcast to talk about it! Except that leaves one question: how to get the word out about this new podcast…
OK, if you absolutely insist, here are links to the two podcasts I co-host:
Words Between Friends
Quality Control Purposes
Love your work Mal, you rock. Keep up the amazing work.