I’m fine, thanks for asking.
I am 5′ 8″, maybe 9″.
No, I don’t play volleyball.
I’m from North Carolina.
I work in finance.
Yes, the weather is beautiful.
Now that we have that out of the way, can we get down to business? I dislike meeting strangers, and I think it’s mostly because I hate making small talk. Wikipedia defines small talk as, “An informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation…” Does that line make anyone else shudder a little? Being face to face with a person with whom I have nothing to discuss is the stuff of nightmares for me. Perks of being an introvert, I suppose.
On the flip side, I love good conversations. I want to be your friend. But I don’t want to discuss petty things neither of us cares about (although, to be honest, I do care about how tall you are. 😀 ). I really want to know why you went to Fiji, and what you want to be doing five years from now, and what the best day of your life was. Tell me your ambitions, and why you’re afraid of holes, and what your dream date looks like. Let’s discuss mercy, and feminism, and churches, and grammar. I want to know who you really are.
I understand that small talk plays a big part in our society, and in paving the way to deeper conversation. However, I think the world would be a lot more interesting if we could wade through it quickly and move on to discussing favorite books or world peace or why tacos should be standard wedding food, instead of spending twenty minutes on how hot the weather happens to be. If you agree, there’s good news.
This is something we can actually change in our worlds!
Instead of getting stuck in the rut of small talk, ask that person where they got their cool scar, or what they think of social media, or how they want to change the world. Don’t be afraid of awkwardness, because situations are only as awkward as you allow them to be. The topics you feel shy to bring up are often the ones that end up leading to the best talks. Try it, and you may be surprised at how the quality of the conversations around you improves.
Photo credit to my nephew Weston and the tree he climbed to take this picture.
Disclaimer: Some people love chatty small talk, and make perfect strangers feel befriended with talk of the weather. More power to them; they have skills I do not possess.