Why You Should Be Good at Small Talk
Small talk generates a lot of backlash; most people think they are too important to discuss the weather. It is true that small talk may seem superficial or boring, but it serves an important purpose. This is why everyone should learn how to do it well.
In a recent article for the New York Times Irish writer Maeve Higgins says that Americans, particularly New Yorkers, are terrible at small talk. Instead, they immediately jump into what’s on their minds. She likens it to a gentle conversation about cookies on a train ride in her home country, which carries a secret message:
This seemingly pointless exchange of views means we can relax. The person we walked away from during the day is not dangerous.
Political scientist and writer Laura See responded on Twitter, saying that she agrees that small talk is important, but disagrees that Americans are bad at it – at least people from the south are not. She shared her strategic acronym: FIRE.
Xi argues that you can always ask people about their family, common interests, entertainment, and what they do for fun, because it avoids arguments about money, politics, and religion.
In my opinion, small talk has another purpose – to facilitate the path to forbidden topics. You give people the opportunity to get to know you better and see if they are comfortable sharing something else, and then some more. Talking about the weather can lead to talking about the weather in other places where you’ve been, who you met along the way, and before you know it, you’ll learn something deep and real about a person you probably didn’t have. would if you just demanded that they share everything with you from the beginning.
If you’re not sure that talking about nothing can lead to something, remember the words of behavioral scientist Nicholas Epley, who did a little research on the Chicago Meter Railroad line. The people in the study were asked to interact and not interact with each other and then questioned about the experience. Introverts and extroverts alike preferred rides where people chatted, and he drew some interesting insights into the purpose of small talk. HuffPost has rounded up its findings in a post since 2017, which indicates that small current makes a deeper meaning.
If you are in a new place and are nervous, the social conventions of chatting can be extremely important. Why? This makes you look away from yourself for a minute.
By shifting the focus from ourselves to others, we can transform our disturbing self-talk from “I never know what to say” to “What I can do is say hello and show interest in the other person.”
It connects you
It’s pretty nicely phrased: “Small talk takes us to the present moment with each other.” You might have been thinking about two different things or feeling separated out of ignorance, but even touching your favorite coffee flavor (uh, mocha?) Can make you feel like you’re sharing an experience with someone. Little experience. Great experience comes with serious conversation, and together you will strive for it.
How to learn to be brave
Maybe you don’t despise small talk; it actually just scares you. Try to think of it as something that you do well for someone else, without any pressure to “do it right.” According to Epley’s findings, this is actually an extremely altruistic act. By performing there, you are allowing someone else to come out of their shell for a bit.
While small talk can be used to manipulate or achieve intended gain, it also provides an excellent opportunity to give, share, and connect with another person. At the risk of striking up a conversation with another, we break out of our niche, office, or solitary habits. Thus, we demonstrate our willingness to communicate.
If you find it difficult to reach out to people, you can say with little risk, “We have a little warmth, huh?”
There will always be people who insist that they want to skip all the acquaintance with you and immediately understand who you are. But when you think about how much you do for someone in small talk, it seems selfish, doesn’t it?