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Thread: Small Talk - Can't Do It, Hate It

  1. #1
    heydude
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    Small Talk - Can't Do It, Hate It

    I HATE small talk. I HATE it so much!

    I find it soooo pointless. It seems people that do small talk can go on and on for an eternity about NOTHING but when you ask them something important, they have nothing to say. AT ALL. Or, if you even ask them about the task at hand or the reason why you are meeting or anything that is of any importance to what is actually going on, they say nothing at all.

    Also, I am extremely bad at small talk. When I small talk, no one listens or says anything. But, when they small talk you are supposed to listen and react to what they are saying.

    So, how do I get better at small talk? At least to get through it?

    Or, how do I deal with it so I can get through it?

    Any perspective?

  2. #2
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    I am an introvert, too. When I was in high school, my dad (also an introvert), decided I should go to youth group at church to learn how to do small talk and be in groups with people. None of the kids in the youth group (or in our church) went to the same high school I did except for one girl and our schools were, in fact, rivals so there was little common ground. I spent a lot of quiet time there, but eventually learned to cope somewhat. Now I can pretty much prattle with the best of them, even if I know nothing about the subject. If you ask people a couple of questions, they will usually run with it and take over the conversation. Since I don't watch TV I can't really converse about the shows, but if I ask someone about their favorite TV show and why they like it, I don't usually have to say anything else, and I can think about what I want to while they ramble on. I'm not sure my dad's idea was the best solution, but I don't think I'm terribly scarred. However, now people come up and talk to me all the time, and I really wish they wouldn't. Drat my parents for teaching me to be polite.

  3. #3
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    Don't ask me, I suck at small talk! Which is why I hate to go to big events like art openings (I'm an artist and get invited to them a lot) where you are expected to hang onto a glass of wine and chat wth people you never met before. So I go, grab the obligatory glass, look at all the art, and escape as fast as I can.

  4. #4
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    Ditto here. Hate it, not good at it. I don't watch TV either, and I don't care about pro sports. I can't even feign interest in those topics.
    There were some interesting insights into small talk in the book about introversion that's been getting a lot of press this year (Quiet -- cant remember the subtitle).

  5. #5
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    ugh..small talk. Whenever I am stuck in this situation I think back to an old Simpsons episode where Ralph falls for Lisa. As they are walking home they fall into an uncomfortable silence. So Ralph says, 'so....do you like...stuff?'

    I always say that in my head at these functions. Hate them...don't know what to say, can never break into a small group to add my two cents..I was wander around willing myself to be invisible.

  6. #6
    Senior Member gimmethesimplelife's Avatar
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    I too am an introvert and I too am not especially good at small talk. Especially about topics which I consider vapid like celebrity gossip.....I have a real problem with celebrity gossip as there are suffering starving people in the world, how can anyone occupy themselves with celebrity gossip? ugggggh. Or the kind of small talk that seems to be so important in so many workplaces - I would much rather the quality of my work did my talking for me and just let me be if I am producing up to par.....But it doesn't seem to work that way in many workplaces. Rob

  7. #7
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    I guess I do what you would term 'small talk' all the time. I can usually find something to say to or ask any individual. I never know what I might learn from someone if I don't talk with them. Example, I was walking out of a gas station and commented to a customer at the gas pump 'nice truck'. He proceeded to tell me all about it, more than I really needed to know but he said it made his day. Conversely, if I get no response or sense no interest then I assume the other person is not into small talk so I bow out, won't push it, I can live with silence too.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mtnlaurel's Avatar
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    My suggestion would be to not think of it as 'small talk', but 'small probing' like domestic goddess says
    If I can get someone going on a topic that they love... then I feel a lot less pressure to be entertaining
    Best thing I can say, "I don't know anything about that, tell me more"

    Go to Event prepped with 3 or so general what-nots that are current:
    Before you attend an event... breeze through the Wall Street Journal weekend section or if you are at an industry event scan through a trade publication, swing by npr.com for their feel good stories
    Is event at an interesting location -- learn a little historical fact about it to share
    Ask if person is from that location originally and learn more about where they're from, if you've traveled there, share your favorite story
    The Summer Olympics are coming up -- are you going to watch it? Do you have a favorite event?
    Did you watch the KY Derby this year - what a win by I'll have Another, such a shame he can't go for the triple crown

    Before you enter the room - breath mint, breathe in/breathe out, shoulders back, chin up, smile.... if you have a really open persona, it just seems to work and before you know it the mix & mingle is over and if you are lucky you spoke to a couple of interesting people
    You are in that space at that time and moment - it is yours, own it.

    Just think of all the proud introverts on this board and how interesting everyone is and the various passions we all have -- whether Intro or Extro....

    I call working a room at an event lofting people softballs... thankfully I love it and my jobs have depended on it quite a bit.
    Last edited by mtnlaurel; 6-12-12 at 8:15pm.

  9. #9
    Senior Member awakenedsoul's Avatar
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    Owning a business taught me to talk to people and get to know them. That's really why they choose your business much of the time, because they like you. I found that they just felt better telling someone they trusted what was going on in their lives. I would also point out how they were improving, or other strengths I could see. I think it's a skill to talk with people. Now I enjoy it.

  10. #10
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    I found Meetup and volunteering very helpful for practicing small talk. The task at hand makes it so you're actually doing something besides just making small talk. Also in a group you don't have to contribute a lot, you actually get to listen a lot more since the conversation is divided among more people.

    I do find people who like to talk but not to listen tiring. Since I usually don't have as much to say, I actually like it when someone wants to pick up the slack. But when I do have something to say, I don't like it when you just see in the person's face the only thing they are thinking about when you are talking is what they are going to say next.

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