One of my biggest pet peeves is small talk. Since I encounter it every day at work, I’ve gotten quite good at it. But I still don’t enjoy it. To me it seems fake and insincere. It usually goes something like this:
Them: Hello, how are you?
Me: Good, you?
Them: I’m doing well. How’s your day going so far?
Me: Alright, I’m happy it’s almost the weekend.
Them: Me too, do you have any plans?
And so it goes.
Now I understand small talk is great for breaking the ice between two people who’ve just met. It can warm up conversation between acquaintances. Or it can be the exchange of pleasantries with your barista or cashier. It makes the transaction a lot less awkward than staring someone down silently as you pay for your purchase.
But I’ve been stuck in so many conversations that have never gone beyond the small talk stage. The conversation jumps from weather, to work, to so-and-so’s new baby, to vacation plans, to gossip, then back to their favorite Netflix show. So I’ll smile and nod while I’m inwardly planning what I’m going to make for supper.
As an introvert, any social interaction drains my energy. But small talk is the worst. Not only do I lose energy but there’s no personal connection gained. I crave mental stimulation. I want to talk about the how’s and why’s. I want to know what makes them tick, their dreams, hopes, and desires. I’m more than willing to open up and share my story too.
Sometimes I’ll try to steer the conversation into deeper waters using open ended questions. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s a beautiful thing.
Any tips for small talk?