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

  1. #11
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    On the other hand... how do you become a good listener? Any great books or ideas to suggest?

  2. #12
    Senior Member ctg492's Avatar
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    I have a bad bad habit of seeing anyone while I am out walking and striking a conversation about nothing, birds, trees, weather, their gardens. SO I guess that consitutes small talk. Yet a deep conversation, prying questions about life/views/family/politics and such I want nothing to do with and go quiet when those are brought up.

  3. #13
    Senior Member KayLR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by creaker View Post
    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.
    I was just talking to someone about this today: I just came back from a week's vacation, but hate it when people ask me "how was your vacation/what did you do/blah blah blah?" First, I am private, hate small talk and it's none of their business. Second, it's none of their business. So.....I just kind of wait and don't answer, and most of these folks simply carry on the conversation as if I had answered, telling me how sucky it was for me to be gone, how they couldn't do this or that without me, etc. Then the subject is changed, I'm back in my comfort zone and it's as if I'd never left.
    My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already!

  4. #14
    Low Tech grunt iris lily's Avatar
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    Small talk is boring unless I am talking about something that interests me. Back some years ago I would talk to anyone in my neighborhood because there was always scads of things to talk about. Complete strangers, and I could chat them up. But now, I'm not as involved as I once was in neighborhood affairs and I don't care as much about stuff as I once did so I don't have curiosity about who is doing what, where, when, and why.

    And, when I meet people at fundraisers, usually we can talk about the organization 'cause we both like it. Recently DH and I attended Circus Flora's fundraiser. I went up to one man who looked familiar and asked him "hmmm, how do I know you?" He talked about his volunteer efforts at the Botanical Gardens, and voila! That's where I had seen him! Later, I went up to another man who looked very familiar and I told him "I know you! I just have to figure out from where!" And I started down my list of places and hit it on the first: My neighborhood! ten years ago he lived in my neighborhood and he walked his dog a lot so I saw him often. So then we played the Who Do You Know and Which House Did You Live In? games and low and behold, he had sold his house to our close friends. Small world.

    But outside of this city I am pretty much a social dud. I personally believe that my neighborhood is the center of this city which is the center of the universe and I'm not very interested in you if you aren't from St. Louis. Unless perhaps you are Royalty or (even better!) have a good Royalty story to share! haha.

  5. #15
    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    I dislike small talk and sometimes wish people would move on to important things like the weather To be truthful, I'm not sure where small talk ends and meaningful talk begins. I could talk about a fascinating book I read recently about bird migration that I'm sure would make many yawn in pure boredom. Many conversations seem to me to be monologues occurring simultaneously. I am an introvert and generally a person of few words, but really treasure a good dialogue.

  6. #16
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    I am pretty shy, but I have to do small talk for work quite a bit. It is not so bad if you go in with a few ideas in mind. Some that work for me are:

    1. Are you a native of ____? If yes, ask if it's changed much. (Of course it has, and they will happily tell you about it). If no, they will probably tell you how they happened to move there, or where they're from.
    2. Ask for advice. People love to be helpful. Not "life direction" advice, but things like "WHere's a good place to go for breakfast around here?" or "Where do you find the best (local specialty) around here?" It works better if you can be specific--"Can you recommend any good restaurants?" is too general for people to come up with a good answer on the fly.
    3. One that was suggested to me, and works really well if you can work it in, is "What books do you like to reread (or what movie have you watched a million times)?" If you ask people if they've read any good books or seen any good movies lately, they might be embarrassed if they haven't, but asking about a favorite is less threatening somehow.
    4. If it's the right kind of situation, asking people where they met their spouses, partners or best friends brings out some amazing stories. Or, depending on the crowd, celebrity close encounters. (This is a good one if you are at say, a dinner, and everyone is stuck sitting for a couple of hours.)
    5. Complimenting something can sometimes work (the wine, a piece of jewelry, art) because the owner will tell you the story behind it.
    6. Where were you when X happened? It doesn't have to be a big national tragedy (that's kind of a bummer) but it works great with blizzards, hurricanes, or other major weather events.

    These are all for social occasions when chatting at some length is expected--I don't particularly feel the need to chat with strangers although if someone starts a conversation in say a store line, I will usually try to answer pleasantly.

    Other things to keep in mind--if the other person is a talker, sometimes the best gift you can give is to listen. Small talk doesn't have to be about fascinating you, it can be about putting some good karma into the universe by being kind to someone who needs a little human contact. If you are lucky enough to hear something really interesting or engage in a stimulating conversation, it's a gift from the universe, but it doesn't always have to be that way to be good small talk. Also, a pastor once told me, and I think he was right, that a group needs to spend at least eight hours together before they are comfortable enough to really open up with each other and have substantive conversations. So if you expect that in more casual situations, it's not surprising people don't go very deep.

    Hope this helps...

  7. #17
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I think of small talk as monkey grooming. When I find myself trapped in it, I take the role of "good listener." I'd be happy to talk about bird migration, even though I know nothing about it; I might learn something.

  8. #18
    heydude
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    i think the main reason i do not like small talk is because i am so different than everyone else. any small talk discussion would have to be followed by some kind of explanation as to myself or listening to some kind of judgement or the ever popular "oh, that is different"

    thanks

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctg492 View Post
    I have a bad bad habit of seeing anyone while I am out walking and striking a conversation about nothing, birds, trees, weather, their gardens. SO I guess that consitutes small talk. Yet a deep conversation, prying questions about life/views/family/politics and such I want nothing to do with and go quiet when those are brought up.
    Well, if that's a bad habit, I















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    Well, if that's a bad habit I've got it too.

    I've found that most people don't mind a short conversation with a stranger as long as no personal questions are asked. In fact, I've been able to find out lots of things about them, such as their children, favourite recipes, pets, etc. It's a pleasant experience for both of us.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by heydude View Post
    i think the main reason i do not like small talk is because i am so different than everyone else. any small talk discussion would have to be followed by some kind of explanation as to myself or listening to some kind of judgement or the ever popular "oh, that is different"

    thanks
    Oh, no, no, no.

    The whole point of small talk is that you do not have to say anything substantial about yourself at all. Like Jane says, it's monkey grooming. If you do not like monkeys, aviod places where they gather. If you find yourself in a situation that requires it, ask the other person a couple open ended questions and let them rip. If you smile and say things to them like "Wow, that is so cool!" (my generation) or "Wow, that is so badass!" (my daughter's generation) and "What did you do then?" you do not ever have to reveal that you are different than the rest of us.


    Though, some of us like different people, actually seek them out. Ummm, like here.
    author of A Holy Errand

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