Small talk

Sacrament

Well-known member
#1
I was wondering: how do you get around small talk? In my head, there's always a battle going on between what I think will be funny or interesting, and what I think other people will find boring or uninteresting. But when I think about what other people are talking to me about, and they're doing it so naturally and care-free, it could also be considered 'boring' when I imagine myself having that conversation.

I suppose I end up putting too much pressure on myself, to the point where I end up talking a lot less than I wanted to because I'm always assessing what could be interesting enough to say, which can end up creating uncomfortable silences.

At the same time, being around other people means also being comfortable with silence, but in my head it's as though I'm causing a disappointing interaction for the other person because I'm not saying anything.
 
#3
I just avoid it altogether when I can.

I never approach people or try to socialize, if we are talking, it's because you're a cashier taking my money or you're one of my neighbors who's caught me between the car and my front door.

I'd love to step into other people's minds here on SPW and see how our phobias and anxieties all compare. Talking to strangers for me is a nightmare for all the reasons you mentioned above. I KNOW I'm gonna come-off like a weirdo, which will bring on judgement from others, which will bring on my irrational self-hatred and all kinds of resultant self-flagellation.

I'd rather just side-step all of that and be a fat mf'er with a dog who doesn't bother anyone.
 
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#4
Yea I totally get what you're saying, I often battle with the same things. I guess There are times when I can put on the mask, pretend to be interested in what they're saying, on the rare occasion I actually am. Other times I just hit that weird moment when there's that awkward silence.. I've found though at times like that I tend to think 'what you've just said was uninteresting and I'm not going to say something just to accommodate you. YOU can be the one that thinks, 'did what I just say sound weird?' :cool::LOL:
 

FriendlyShadow

Well-known member
#5
I'd have to say when you have little to no life experience and you're isolated 24/7, it can be harder to come up with interesting/exciting conversations to talk about with others. Yes, we can talk about our favorite bands, we can talk about a new tv show we watched on Netflix, we can talk about the news, hell, we can even talk about the weather... and I'm not saying those aren't good topics to have as discussions, but because we're isolated so much from the world, it pretty much limits our ability to hold on a conversation.

I try to educate myself when I can so that at least I don't come across sounding boring or stupid while talking to someone. Yet, because of my disability, there's two problems I have: I forget half of the information I read and it's also hard to form my own opinion on the things I read about. Like, literally, I could google and do some research about aliens but I'll only remember very little about the information I just read, or there might be very important information I leave out that I wanted to talk about with others. I'm not truly smart. I'm smart in some things, but I don't have intelligence and unfortunately some people notice it. My biggest problem(personally) I've come to find out is I think the reason I've been quiet all my life is because I had nothing intelligent to say and I'm ashamed to admit that. So, I guess I could kinda understand why people would choose someone less boring than me.
 

LoyalXenite

Well-known member
#6
I tend to make awkward attempts until I can find some topic to latch onto.. I usually cycle through things like pets/weather/animals/current events/netflix shows hoping the other person shows an interest in something and then theyll take the mantle of conversation :LOL:

Or I stand awkwardly and am unable to initiate at all and give only basic responses to their attempts :LOL:
 
#7
In my head, there's always a battle going on between what I think will be funny or interesting, and what I think other people will find boring or uninteresting. But when I think about what other people are talking to me about, and they're doing it so naturally and care-free, it could also be considered 'boring' when I imagine myself having that conversation.
The actual content of the "small talk" is almost entirely irrelevant. Boring stuff is fine. Appropriate even. No one needs to be impressed by your small talk and any attempt to do so is likely to backfire. The purpose of small talk is social grooming; establishing trust and familiarity. Body language and tone of voice far outweigh the subject matter. You just have to let them know that you aren't planning to murder anyone in the near future and have enough sense to avoid divisive issues and oversharing with a stranger (as these things could indicate personal instability and foretell of unpleasant experiences with you).

Small talk + evolution

that link said:
Talking is a social lubricant, not necessarily done to convey information, but to establish familiarity,” he said. “I think these vocalizations are equivalent to the chitchat that we do. People think that conversations are like exchanging mini-lectures full of information. But most of the time we have conversations and forget them when we’re done because they’re performing a purely social function.
 

Miserum

Well-known member
#10
I'd have to say when you have little to no life experience and you're isolated 24/7, it can be harder to come up with interesting/exciting conversations to talk about with others. Yes, we can talk about our favorite bands, we can talk about a new tv show we watched on Netflix, we can talk about the news, hell, we can even talk about the weather... and I'm not saying those aren't good topics to have as discussions, but because we're isolated so much from the world, it pretty much limits our ability to hold on a conversation.
I've thought more and more about this now that my job requires me to socialize with people more regularly and I've sort of noticed things.

I agree with FriendlyShadow in that I think the social cues that are a part of everyday life are lost on those of us that are or have been "shut-ins" (myself included). I'd like to expand on it a little bit with my own thoughts.

The reason I say this is because normalized people are out socializing all day, almost every day, because they have obligations like work or school that requires them to be out and about; the daily social cues that they experience become a part of them. In other words, they learn the social "system."

It's almost like second nature or muscle memory; imagine a well-adjusted person--their subconscious thought might go something like this: "This person said this to me or acted this way, and because I've been in this situation every day of my life and am familiar with it, I will respond to them in this appropriately specific way." The response has been bred into them by the mere exposure to their vast number of social interactions and maybe... even Pavlovian. Instead of bells causing an automatic salivating response in dogs--a conditioned response--social cues cause automatic, conditioned responses in return by the participating speakers.

The person that has not been exposed to these social cues enough to learn them and absorb them into their personality will naturally not do well when it comes to social situations. Not to mention, the myriad types of social situations. Someone that has been exposed to social cues growing up in Beverly Hills, CA (rich people) might not understand the social cues inherent in Detroit, MI (the hood).

So again, it follows that the person that has not been exposed to any social situation for any proper length of time to absorb social cues, will have a very hard time understanding those cues until they put the time in to understand them, probably through exposure.
My biggest problem(personally) I've come to find out is I think the reason I've been quiet all my life is because I had nothing intelligent to say and I'm ashamed to admit that. So, I guess I could kinda understand why people would choose someone less boring than me.
I seriously doubt that. Based on the level of introspection in your posts, I really do doubt it. If you can philosophize at length regarding your problems in an intelligent way, which I think you do, you can probably do so on other topics as well.

You're just socially fucked up like the rest of us due to many unclear and poorly understood reasons, which causes you to freeze up during social situations, but that doesn't make you unintelligent.
 
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Miserum

Well-known member
#11
The actual content of the "small talk" is almost entirely irrelevant. Boring stuff is fine. Appropriate even. No one needs to be impressed by your small talk and any attempt to do so is likely to backfire. The purpose of small talk is social grooming; establishing trust and familiarity. Body language and tone of voice far outweigh the subject matter. You just have to let them know that you aren't planning to murder anyone in the near future and have enough sense to avoid divisive issues and oversharing with a stranger (as these things could indicate personal instability and foretell of unpleasant experiences with you).

Small talk + evolution

that link said:
Talking is a social lubricant, not necessarily done to convey information, but to establish familiarity,” he said. “I think these vocalizations are equivalent to the chitchat that we do. People think that conversations are like exchanging mini-lectures full of information. But most of the time we have conversations and forget them when we’re done because they’re performing a purely social function.
This makes a lot of sense to me. A lot of sense.
 

lily

Well-known member
#13
I just think of it like you like the person, who they are, they're nice, you like their personality so you can just talk about whatever you like. There seems to be little I can think of that you can't talk about and if they don't want to answer a question they'll just say so and then you move on. -that's it.
 

Miserum

Well-known member
#14
The actual content of the "small talk" is almost entirely irrelevant. Boring stuff is fine. Appropriate even. No one needs to be impressed by your small talk and any attempt to do so is likely to backfire. The purpose of small talk is social grooming; establishing trust and familiarity. Body language and tone of voice far outweigh the subject matter. You just have to let them know that you aren't planning to murder anyone in the near future and have enough sense to avoid divisive issues and oversharing with a stranger (as these things could indicate personal instability and foretell of unpleasant experiences with you).

Small talk + evolution
This is seriously so fucking true. I thought about it all day as I went about interacting and bullshitting with folks. The paradigm has shifted because of this intelligent motherfucker right here, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.
 

lily

Well-known member
#15
This is seriously so fucking true. I thought about it all day as I went about interacting and bullshitting with folks. The paradigm has shifted because of this intelligent motherfucker right here, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.
..lol, Thank you for liking my post Miserum :) What I'm talking about is that I used to have friends irl but I won't say why we're not friends anymore and we would talk about anything that comes to our mind. I didn't judge them (except one thing 1 friend asked me which is if I had a b/f and now I still don't like being asked that question but I don't really mind) and they didn't judge me and we always went to hang out with each other. it's about re-wiring our brains of anxiety so that we have the right/healthy mind-set and also going with the flow or changing the subject after when it's done with.
 
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Miserum

Well-known member
#16
..lol, Thank you for liking my post Miserum :) What I'm talking about is that I used to have friends irl but I won't say why we're not friends anymore and we would talk about anything that comes to our mind. I didn't judge them (except one thing 1 friend asked me which is if I had a b/f and now I still don't like being asked that question but I don't really mind) and they didn't judge me and we always went to hang out with each other. it's about re-wiring our brains of anxiety so that we have the right/healthy mind-set and also going with the flow or changing the subject after when it's done with.
Yes, I agree that some rewiring is in order. :)

It's a painful process. :confused:
 
#18
I was wondering: how do you get around small talk? In my head, there's always a battle going on between what I think will be funny or interesting, and what I think other people will find boring or uninteresting. But when I think about what other people are talking to me about, and they're doing it so naturally and care-free, it could also be considered 'boring' when I imagine myself having that conversation.

I suppose I end up putting too much pressure on myself, to the point where I end up talking a lot less than I wanted to because I'm always assessing what could be interesting enough to say, which can end up creating uncomfortable silences.

At the same time, being around other people means also being comfortable with silence, but in my head it's as though I'm causing a disappointing interaction for the other person because I'm not saying anything.
After more than 6 years of small talk with the same people in the same workplace, I can say Nate is entirely right in his post. It doesn't matter what you say. No need to overthink it. It's just a matter of saying anything in a friendly manner to show that you are not hostile. The key is in asking questions. Hey. How is it going. What did you do last night. Yeah me neither. I've cooked pancakes and watched tv. Hey have you planned anything for your holidays? Nice. Nice. Woah that sounds cool. We should clean the coffee machine don't you think.

I'd rather just side-step all of that and be a fat mf'er with a dog who doesn't bother anyone.
That sounds very tolerable to me

I try to educate myself when I can so that at least I don't come across sounding boring or stupid while talking to someone. Yet, because of my disability, there's two problems I have: I forget half of the information I read and it's also hard to form my own opinion on the things I read about. Like, literally, I could google and do some research about aliens but I'll only remember very little about the information I just read, or there might be very important information I leave out that I wanted to talk about with others. I'm not truly smart. I'm smart in some things, but I don't have intelligence and unfortunately some people notice it. My biggest problem(personally) I've come to find out is I think the reason I've been quiet all my life is because I had nothing intelligent to say and I'm ashamed to admit that. So, I guess I could kinda understand why people would choose someone less boring than me.
I don't know you, so I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that you're not as un-smart as you think. Remembering the important information in what you read is not a skill that everyone have. Someone was just telling me something about this the other day, and this person was far from dumb. You say you don't have intelligence and people notice that, well, remember that what people notice is if you look intelligent or not, and a lot of them won't go further in their analysis. You're not necessarly what people think you are. You've posted a video of you talking about a speech problem recently, well speech impairment is something that will indeed makes you look less intelligent in the eyes of others. It doesn't mean that you are. Maybe it just means that you're a little more slow than average. So is Treebeard and we all know he's not dumb.
 
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