Joel from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind says, “Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.” In a world where we’re conditioned to use small talk to be socially accepted, it doesn’t do much justice for introverts who dread it. The pure meaninglessness of conversations that revolve around the weather just to avoid silence can actually be more stifling when no actual growth or learning takes place. The absence of these components blocks honest connections with others that can cause introverts to feel even more alone than ever.
And yet, to survive socially in this world, we have to be willing to meet somewhere in the middle. The world isn’t a mind reader, so we shouldn’t treat it like one. Instead, we can be brave and join the dance. Psych2Go shares with you 5 tips on how to survive small talk as an introvert:
1. If you feel anxious about making small talk, just remember that the situation in itself isn’t threatening, but rather the anxiety is based on your own beliefs and doubts.
Not every conversation you have with someone will be life-changing or fulfilling, but if that were the case, then we wouldn’t have a need to form exclusively special relationships with the few people we have the confidence to call our best friends or our lovers. If you fail at making small talk with someone to get the ball rolling, it’s okay. Give yourself credit for stepping out and trying. It’s going to be awkward at times, but that’s not to say that it’ll be like that for every single experience. Be kind to yourself. Part of getting better at something means having to take both the good with the bad.
2. Put less pressure on yourself.
If you don’t want to be in the spotlight, then you don’t have to be. You can still engage in small talk without having to disclose a lot of information about yourself. Instead, ask questions to get to know the other person better. Once you can weave a solid ground that establishes some similarities that the two of you share, slowly, you can pitch in and relate.
3. Elaborate on your responses.
When someone asks you how your week is going, instead of just saying, “It’s going well,” you can say something like, “It’s going well. I’ve been making more time for myself to enjoy life.” That way, the other person can ask you more questions along the way, so the conversation doesn’t remain stagnant and substance can be added as it grows.
4. Steer the conversation by offering a chance to dive in the deep.
This is your chance to shine! You can get to know the person you’re conversing with on a deeper level by asking open-ended questions. This allows the other person to say more than just a few words. Questions that ask about their opinions, what their dreams are, or factors that they can largely identify with can make room for the conversation to build up into something more stimulating and fulfilling. Then, you can reciprocate and insert your own opinions and relevant life stories.
5. Don’t brood over what went wrong. Instead, take mental notes (or physical ones) to help you do better next time.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Instead of blaming yourself, wishing you could’ve done things differently, take each experience you engage in small talk as a lesson to sharpen your skills. Ask yourself questions, such as:
What didn’t work?
What can I do next time to prevent this from happening again?
The best part is that you always have the power to help yourself. And remember that making small talk is just a tiny part of you; it’s not an accurate portrayal of who you are. Rather, it only acts as a gateway for something potentially bigger and meaningful, but you have to be receptive to those opportunities if you ever want to grow.
How do you survive small talk as an introvert? Leave a comment down below!
Granneman, J. (2016, January 13). The Real Reason Introverts Dread Small Talk. The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 19, 2017.