Came across this amazing blog today! It is a must follow, and I don’t often recommend other bloggers.
This post is so applicable as I turn 31 tomorrow and have realised that I am soooo over the surface level conversations people strike up, well, I guess ALL the time!
I Hate Small Talk
‘Hello, Ma’am. How are you today?” asks the caller, whose name appears on my call display as “unavailable”. The hairs at the back of my neck point north as I kick myself for answering, thus defeating the purpose of having call display. How am I? she asks – as if she cares two hoots. Whose bright idea was it to instruct telemarketers to inquire after our well-being? “I’m Fine” I say dismissively, leaving an uncomfortable silence where the “ … and how are you?” would normally go. As she proceeds to recite her telemarketing lines I interrupt with an annoyed “No thank you” and move to replace the receiver … but not before I hear her disembodied voice politely telling me to ‘have a nice day’.
How am I? Have a nice day? When did these phrases seep into our communication with absolute strangers?
I hate small talk. I’m not good at it – which can be a bit of a problem, since it follows us everywhere. Being out and about in the world requires that we engage in chit-chat with sundry people we encounter along the way … fleeting exchanges about nothing in particular. By it’s very definition, small talk involves conversation about matters of unimportance. It is society’s ice-breaker … a filler of empty pockets of time.
And oh! empty pockets of time abound! We ride the elevator with strangers and comment on the beautiful (or terrible!) weather we are having. Or we sit in a doctor’s waiting room, flipping through outdated, tattered magazines, and exchange ‘pleasantries’ (inaptly named, if you ask me). The opportunities are endless! Line-ups … restaurants … public washrooms … water coolers … airplanes …, and hair stylists, to name a few.
But nowhere is small talk more painful for me than at cocktail parties, where it is incumbent upon guests to “mingle”. Oh how I hate that word – it reeks of ‘Oh Dahling!! I wander around, looking for someone to momentarily imprison with my attempt at trivial chit-chat – people I have probably never met before, or will ever meet again. I watch others moving about with apparent ease – even enjoyment – while I am trying to figure out why my watch has stopped!
‘What is wrong with me?’ I ask myself, for the umpteenth time. I am neither shy nor I socially phobic. I simply find small talk empty and meaningless.
So here I am, 65 years of age, still scratching my head in bewilderment, with no relief in sight.
Until, by some stroke of luck, I stumbled upon the answer in a lecture I found online entitled “The Power of Introverts”. I have never regarded myself as an introvert, because when I’m with people I know, I am talkative and outgoing. But as I watched and listened, I was mesmerized by the speaker’s description of the characteristics of the introvert. It was an accurate description of me!
There it was – the answer that had eluded me for so long – a simple explanation that made absolute sense, obliterating my lifelong conviction that there was something wrong with me.
What does it mean, exactly, to be an introvert? It means that being alone energizes me, while spending too much time around people drains my energy. It means that I focus on my inner world, rather than the outer world, and that I thrive on solitude, where I can recharge my batteries and pursue my creative interests – which, no surprise – are solitary ones. It means that I am introspective, and love deep conversations, skipping the superficial and engaging in discussions about matters of substance.
And – wouldn’t you know it – introverts dislike small talk!!
And there is more. Introverts are often creative, observant and insightful, have good leadership skills and are good listeners.
So! Much to my intense relief – not only is there nothing wrong with me – there is actually something right with me!
Next time a telemarketer calls and asks how I am, I might answer “Well – let me tell you about my day …” and when she finds a way to escape this lunacy I will be sure to tell her to have a nice day!
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