How's your small talk? Many introverts don't understand small talk, and seldom value or enjoy it.
But small talk has a purpose: it's a form of connection with another soul, which is important for our wellbeing.
Small talk has a purpose: it's a form of connection with another soul, which is important for our wellbeing.
It's also a way to let someone else know that you care about them enough to spend a few moments engaged with them.
You may not have time for a meaningful conversation, so you share a few words about the weather, meaningless phrases about how "fine" you are.
Because small talk seems so important to everyone else, I worked out that if I listen to the conversation around me, or the words people use when engaged in small talk, I could change the wording, and therefore master the skill myself.
To illustrate, someone will ask, "How are your kids doing at school?"
For the life of me I can't remember if they have kids or who they are so I say, "Really well (elaborating a little). And how is your family?"
See, I just asked the same thing without having to remember who is in their family.
Eventually the penny drops, they mention a name and you can add more detail, ask more personalised questions, like, "How did your dad's surgery go?", which makes you look like you remember far more than you did at the start.
Small talk can often lead to a more substantial and interesting conversation, something that introverts are more likely to enjoy, because it means the opportunity to talk about something you feel passionate about.
You can use a segue at an early point to switch to that passion, just remember to switch back to asking questions about the other person now and then.
No one will ever know you're not comfortable with small talk. Well, now they probably know that about me...
- Linda is an art therapist and social worker in private practice in the Southern Highlands, NSW and may be contacted for any mental health concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0438 400 446.