“Pretty warm for January, huh?”. Whenever I say something like that, people who know me know what is up: I am making a joke about changing an uncomfortable topic of conversation to inane smalltalk. It works, mainly because I have yet to meet a person who says “I like small talk” or even just “small talk is kinda alright, I guess”. That is how maligned to whole concept seems to be.
But which question would you rather answer, yourself: “Pretty warm for January, huh?” or “How do you deal with the dread of living a futile and ultimately meaningless existence, hurtling through the void into nothingness?”
Having had to use a car sharing service a couple of times, I can categorically answer my own rhetorical question. Small talk is great, it works as a social glue and calms strangers who, for some reason, are stuck together somewhere for some time. That seems to keep happening to me ever since I finished school all those years back. And if you do not like small talk, or think you cannot pull it off convincingly, start with these easy pointers:
- Avoid talking about the weather, if possible. There’s a reason why that joke of mine works as a joke
- Don’t talk politics or religion, unless you are prepared to defend your position or for the conversation to become hostile.
- Ask the other persons some questions regarding their own life. It shows interest and that’s just a nice thing to do.
- Remember to only use small talk in small doses. After a while your topics can get more serious, or specific or heated or whatever.
Having had to deal with people who say that they don’t like small talk a lot, I can categorically say that some of them are, indeed, socially awkward. The vast majority, I reckon, want to be cool and edgy and are 9 times out of 10 people who are quite sociable and expertly use small talk themselves. If you try to talk to them about serious topics, they will usually act pretty cold, for any month.