…for some of us.
There are two kinds of people in the world:
- Those who love small talk.
- Those who hate small talk.
I confess – I am in group 2.
I wish there was a course I could have taken in college called Chin Wagging 101…then again…I wouldn’t have taken it. I also readily admit – I’m a late bloomer. I was foolish enough, in my youth, to believe small talk was something I’d “never use” in “real life.” Kind of like algebra (sorry JK).
I mean, I’ve come to realize there is no greater, more universally necessary and applicable life skill than that of small talk. Every student should have some training in this form of belles-lettres.
Recongnizing my weakness, I’ve read book after book on the topic:
- The Fine Art of Small Talk
- How to Talk to Anyone
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
and on and on…maybe the most insightful book I’ve come across on the topic is:
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
I learned about the difficulties introverts have…trying to fit into an extroverted world. My husband has a different way of schooling me on the topic, “Maybe if you didn’t have a case of ‘chronic-bitch-face’…you’d find human interaction a little easier.” Ouch – the truth hurts. Okay, so maybe…some people…might think I’m a little “intense.”
I didn’t even know ‘chronic-bitch-face’ was a “thing”…but it is and he was right.
A study done by Midwestern University found that 80% of the time, a lack of communication skills rather than technical ability or business know-how is the reason people do not get ahead in their jobs…or just, you know, in life….
And if you’re a woman who falls into Group 2 – it’s even harder. Group 2 ladies – you know what I mean, right? Women are often expected to be more social, empathetic and loquacious…and if we fail to meet that general expectation…we’re labeled a…well, see above.
So for any of my still-waters sisters (and brothers) out there…here are a few tips from the ‘experts’ on how to play the important game of tongue ‘Twister’:
- Do Your Homework – I know, right? There is no escaping homework, no matter how old you are or how many degrees you have. Before going to an event, to class, to work – find out about the people around you – their interests, attitudes etc. – and brush up on those topics.
- Draw People Out – Everyone can talk about themselves – everyone is an expert on that topic. Ask questions and then be a good listener…if the conversation lags and you find it difficult to focus as someone expounds upon their favorite laundry detergent…make a polite getaway.
- Be Willing to Be Drawn – If someone is trying to chat you up (provided she didn’t appear suddenly from a dark alley) don’t use one-word responses…embellish and elaborate.
- Discuss Your Environment – It’s something you have in common with those around you. “It’s cold.” “The walls are so…white.”
- Be Willing to Discuss Your Environment – see above
Finally…if you aren’t one of the speak-easies in Group 1…plan ahead. Think about each day and what meetings, classes, activities, commitments, events you have that will require “talk energy” and be sure to create times before, after and in-between that allow you to recharge that battery. We all have our own unique battery packs – with varying amounts of energy for various activities. Energy is important, Chickens! I mean we don’t want to be running around out here with our heads cut-off!
In physics, a consequence of The Law of Conservation of Energy is: no system without an external energy supply can deliver an unlimited amount of energy to its surroundings.
Maybe I should sign up for physics 101????