I love meeting new people. It fascinates me how no two humans are alike. Each person has their own likes, dislikes, talents, quirks and remarkable backstory.
But, here’s the problem: usually in order to make a successful first impression, one has to be good at a practice commonly referred to as “small talk.”
And I’m terrible at it.
I make even old friends squirm awkwardly when I meet up with them in the grocery store by saying the dreaded: “Hi. How are you?”
It’s inevitable. I’ll say it. Because it’s the thing to say in passing. Meanwhile, I know how useless the question is, because no one can properly answer it in the ten second amount of time allotted for such a meetup. And for heavens sake, if you’re having a terrible day, you have to lie through your teeth or utter a disheartened “Well… I’m ok.”
I’ve tried the small talk about weather routine, which I cringe at as well. Because who really cares about how cold the day is or how much snow we got? It’s November in Canada for crying out loud, what else would one expect to see??
Or maybe I feel in my introverted type mood and I see someone I really do like. I usually just smile, genuinely meeting their eyes and comment how nice it is to see them.
(Commence the awkward silence as we both rummage through our mind bank of typical small talk questions to ask, none of which we feel like divulging into at the moment.)
Still we want to make a good impression with the people we admire…
How about saying, “How was your week?”
There’s nothing conversationally worse than trying to remember details about your week, especially when you can barely remember what you had for breakfast this morning, then assess them into categories of “good” or “bad”, balancing them out on a scale so you can properly acknowledge whether the week indeed was “good” or “bad”. All within an allotted time of ten seconds so there isn’t too long of a pause.
And please, don’t get me started on how much I hate “icebreakers”. As if telling you my favorite kind of pizza will really warm either of us up.
I like bacon pizza.
No, maybe I wasn’t meant to be good at the practise of small talk…
But ask me my life story and I’ll open up.
Ask me about the book I’m writing and I’ll talk your ear off. How about discussing why Canada likes to add a “u” in to spell colour or favourite, when it looked perfectly fine without the “u”.
Color. Favorite. So much better. I would risk failing a spelling test just so that I could drop the “u”.
Or let’s discuss issues that matter, like why so many people have kids when they don’t want to be around them. Or what the purpose is behind suffering. And what exactly is the point of getting up each morning to repeat the same routine over and over again. Or if there’s a God and how we can know if we’ve found the right one.
Then, I have things to say. Because deep down, I know these topics are sincere. They’re meaningful. So I care to answer them.
But ask me about my plans for the evening and I’ll freeze up like a glacier.
My plans are to fold laundry.
Anyone else out there who hates small talk? Any ideas on making it less awkward?