One of the things I dread about making new friends are the politely inane conversations people tumble into when they first meet. So many topics are off-limits for these conversations because they can so quickly devolve into hard feelings or a clash of ideologies.
Most safe topics aren’t things I have ever fired up my neurons about in order to form an opinion . I don’t:
- Watch sports or reality show competitions.
- Have kids or pets.
- Believe that weather reporters do anything other than pick numbers out of a hat when making their weekly forecasts.
- Know anything about fashion, makeup, or shopping.
- Want juicy details on what so-and-so did or said last week.
With the exception of gossiping none of these topics are bad and I don’t think any less of those who find them scintillating. They just aren’t intriguing to me.
Normally I don’t post about topics that I haven’t at least begun to unravel. I think I will turn this into a series posts as I figure out what does (and does not) work for those of us who hate small talk.
What I love to discuss – the life weirdnesses and triumphs that come with being a bi, agnostic, pacifist, childfree feminist – also tend to be stuff that isn’t always a good idea to bring up with someone the first time you meet.
Some people seriously do not respond well to any or all of these labels for reasons that don’t have a damn thing to do with me as a fellow human being. More often than I like to think about I’ve been on the receiving end of a lecture on why I am not (or should not be) one or more of these items so until we’ve either hung out a few times or the topics come up naturally in conversation I’m stuck with silly banter about the weather and fluffy’s latest adventure at the dog park.
What I’ve learned so far:
As much as I love to rely on asking other people questions about their lives I really dislike it when this technique is used on me. After a few minutes it begins to feel like an interrogation instead of a conversation.
Sometimes humour can be introduced early in a conversation but I express it most often through wordplay or dry, ironic understatements. Once someone gets to know me it’s entertaining but it can be jarring for people who aren’t accustomed to this style.
Fellow introverts and other despisers of this social convention, what tricks do you use to keep the conversation flowing more smoothly while playing the small talk game?
People who love small talk, why do you enjoy it so much? Is there any advice you can give to those of us who don’t enjoy it?
Everyone, do you prefer small fish or big ones? 😉