Saturday, 12 April 2008

Small Talk

According to this article, small talk is a useful skill to develop, as it supposedly makes you come across as a more open, friendly and approachable person.
I can see where they're coming from...

But I guess that would make me a closed, unfriendly and unapproachable person.
Because small talk irks me. I hate it. I despise it. And I'm rubbish at it!
To me small talk reeks of hypocrisy, politeness and lack of genuine interest in others.
Small talk is what you do when you really don't have a clue what else to really talk about, and when you meet someone you really don't want to be talking to but have to.
Small talk is talking for the sake of it, as an end in itself.
I find small talk contrived, false, painful and pointless. And also boring, frankly. As well as completely superficial.

I mean what is the point in asking someone 'how they are', 'what they do', 'where they live', 'what they got up to last week end', 'where they went on holiday last year'... just for the heck of it? ...Unless you really care?? Where do you then go from there? At what point do you stop smiling? And also: what's the likelihood that you'll 'put your foot in it' eventually, for example asking them if they've got kids when they've been on fertility treatment for the last 5 years with no sucess?!

See, when I find myself in a situation where small talk is necessary (-and expected), my mind wanders, I quickly lose my concentration, and my train of thought gets interrupted. I usually start wondering whether I should be looking that person in the eye, and if so, how long for; or whether I've got my arms crossed and what that says about my true level of interest in the person I'm talking to... I become insanely self-conscious, uncomfortable, and just end up going 'blank'. A bit like when you get stage fright.
And then there is the 'awkward silence'.
I hate awkward silences with a person I don't know very well.
Because it means you know you've both run out of things to say to each other, but you've no idea how to move on without losing face!

So next time you bump into me, PLEASE don't ask me 'how I am' unless you really want to know! Because I'll give you a real, honest, probably lengthy answer. And I'll ask you 'how you are', and I'll expect you to give me an equally real answer. I certainly won't say, "yeah I'm fine"... and then walk away.


  1. Wanted to say that to me, you're the sort of friend who can ask me how I am, and I know I can give you a straight answer. Just wanted to say thanks :-)

  2. Oh, and the stuff I was annoyed etc about on my blog the other day - God told me to put it behind me, and trust in him, so I am. I know it's gonna be ok. Thanks for your concern :-)

  3. So, how are you, sweetie? And, you KNOW that I care! Me? Just taking a quick break from the vomiting. There - a "real" answer. Yes, small talk is for the birds! :) Oh, and thanks for your kind comment on my blog!

  4. My photography tutor told us tonight that we should 'think and act like hairdressers' make small talk with our subjects...apparently it builds rapport and puts them at ease....


  5. Debs - I'm so glad you feel this way! Truly... I'm priviledged :) And I'm so glad you chose to listen to God instead of someone else/ yourself (does that make sense??)

    Michelle - lol!! I do know you care, you're a lovely, genuine person, and I think you wear your heart on your sleeve like I do.
    Hope the vomiting stops soon

    Andy - woe is you ;o) I guess if there's a particular purpose in making small talk, then it makes it more meaningful, as it's no longer an end in itself. To me, a hairdresser's chit chat makes me feel quite ill at ease, because I know they tend to ask all their clients the same kind of stuff, without really caring. I don't know, maybe it's just the way I'm wired, but I'd rather put up with those awkward silences!


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