I’m Really Bad at Small Talk

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?

23 thoughts on “I’m Really Bad at Small Talk

  1. Small talk can be awkward and uncomfortable because it feels pointless, and typically, both people engaged in conversation know just how meaningless it is. It’d make more sense to free the burden by simply announcing this is silly, and (let’s) talk about something that matters or nothing at all. I’m okay with small talk in small doses. The smaller the better. Terrific post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed! I wish we would culturally do away with the practice for good. But then again, meaningful conversation takes effort and time which most people seem to be lacking these days. Thanks for your thoughtful feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Small talk is ok sometimes. But I think many times people do small talk to avoid real talk. Real talk goes beyond the shallow surface and causes us to be more vulnerable and honest.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. For me what works is trying to be a good listener. When I listen I hear people discuss what is going on in their life and then I remember what they said. Next time I see them (such as at church or in the break room at work), I follow up about whatever they mentioned. I noticed when you do this people view you as being more of a sincere person who cares. Then when they see you they are more honest instead of just talking about the weather all the time. Lol

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I usually write about my failings after some sort of group gathering. It’s like a social hangover: “Why did I say that?” “Why did I talk so much?” “Why did I mention income disparity?”

        Liked by 2 people

  3. LOL. Your honesty is so refreshing! Love it!

    I come from a family of awkward small-talkers. But I’m learning that the key to genuine, connecting in small talk is asking specific questions about their lives. Sometimes that can be hard because we just met someone new. Then, we have to go back to the basics: “Where did you grow up?”, “Do you come from a big family?”, etc. But if we truly care about each person as a God-designed individual, then even this seemingly not-deep small talk is meaningful. People like to share who they are. We just have to listen.

    That said, I’m a work in progress, and if you ran into me one day on the street, I will likely be equally awkward. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love it! I really like the idea of asking meaningful starter questions, as all relationships have to start somewhere! And some people are so good at this. I actually envy people who can do this with ease! I do struggle to find meaningful questions to ask… maybe I’ll have to write a list of the ones you mentioned on my hand or something next time I’m stuck for ideas 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My thoughts exactly! The only thing worse than having to make small talk is encountering someone more awkward at making small talk 😊. In either circumstance, I pray for God to give me the words to say and to guide our small talk which sometimes develops into a meaningful conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

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