I’m not into small talk. Never have been, probably never will be. And unfortunately there are numerous situations in life where small talk is a requirement—a mandatory evil. For some, like my husband, small talk comes naturally. For others, like myself, it’s a heavy, brooding, death with a side of agonizing torture.
People like me would rather take a sharp pencil and poke their eyes out than be cornered by boring, insignificant small talk. People like me need substance and authentic interaction, authentic conversation. Not frivolous, dead-end sentences strung together to create mind-numbing chatter. I mean, really, how long can you actually talk about the weather, your kids, or the economy without wanting to poke your eyes out.
Small talk is like stepping in a mound of dog poo and trying desperately to smear it onto the grass and off your shoe—it lingers around with an awkward smell.
Although sometimes I can walk away from small talk unscathed, and unbruised—depending upon the person I’m talking to. If it’s someone whose company I don’t mind, then small talk is a doable, tolerable thing. But even then, I’d prefer the conversation to be more meaningful, less formal. More comfortable, less awkward. A conversation where there’s no urgent need to fill the blank pauses or empty silences with words. Where you’re comfortable in the silence. Those are the conversations I love.
A good friend of mine always tells me how he’d get trapped in painful conversations, and as he’s describing this to me I’m doubled over in laughter. He would labor over the word “painful” drawing out each letter in long agonizing syllables —paaa…..nnnnn…..ful…..llll— it was so hilarious! I can totally relate to the emotions he feels in those “small talk” moments where you have to paste a smile on your face and try hard not to roll your eyes to the back of your head.
Unfortunately there are so many things in life we have to suffer through for the greater good. Small talk is one of those things. The greater good is we all want to have pleasurable interaction with people. Every relationship or interaction we encounter has to start somewhere. And it starts with a seed of conversation—regardless of how painful it can sometimes be.
Photo by David Castillo Dominici