I read something today that really struck me, and I don’t mean that lightly. I find that I’m consistently reading things that continuously make me question my own beliefs, and I think that’s a good thing, but it could also mean I don’t have very strong beliefs, but that’s not what I’m trying to get at here.
So what is it that really got me?
As you might have guessed from the title of the post, it has to do with small talk. I was reading a question on my favorite website, Quora (Which I’ve placed links in the footer), and came across a question.
So what did I think when I saw this? I was intrigued. I too find small talk very insignificant at times, and feel as if it is a waste of time where no real ideas get exchanged. I was mostly expecting to find answers similar to my own beliefs, so not really expecting much, and I came across an answer that just…well it makes you think.
Here is the answer:
Why do I find people’s small talk boring?
“Because you aren’t good at listening and then carefully and attentively broadening the conversation. This may in part be because you are cynical with regards to the beginnings of social interaction. Why should strangers offer you anything of real value or take a risk with you until you have demonstrated your ability to handle simple social tasks competently (say without sarcasm or dismissiveness)? So they start off trading in pennies to check you out. You can be virtually certain, as well, that if you find initial small talk boring then the people who are boring you find you, in turn, awkward, charmless, equally boring and perhaps even a bit narcissistic.”
All I could think after I read that answer is, that’s powerful.
And it really is powerful, and I’ll tell you why. My whole life, whenever I would go out and meet people, or I should say, forced to meet people, I would always secretly hate it. It wasn’t because I didn’t like meeting new people, because I did. We all like meeting new people. I always thought, due to past experiences, the probability that I would actually find someone who understands things the way I understand them, and would talk about the topics I really wanted to talk about, well, the chances were low I’d find someone like that. This is because many, and I will say many, of my previous conversations usually go something like this.
New Person: “Hi.”
Me: “Hi. How are you?”
New Person: “Good, you?”
Me: “Great. Where are you from?”
New Person: “From around here, you?”
Me: “Oh same”
New Person: “Cool”
What a fascinating conversation, right? I mean that sarcastically, of course. So, after those kinds of conversations ended, I would usually dismiss the person as being boring or, I hate to say it, shallow minded. Why did they not talk about anything deep? Deep conversation is where strong connections are made, so why are so many people afraid of making deep conversations?
And that’s what the answer above addressed, and addressed it perfectly. I was being too cynical to actually give credit to the other person in my past conversations. I was too worried about what I could get out of the conversation, that I wasn’t giving the other person a chance. I wasn’t listening to them, and that’s just it. The person on the other end, they were trying to see if I was worth their time to talk to, but I already decided myself they weren’t worth my time, and in the end, they thought I was some boring, charmless, narcissist.
If that’s not humbling, then I really don’t know what is.
What’s the takeaway in all of this? Small talk can be boring, yes, but it doesn’t have to be. In reality, the reason you might find it boring is because you’ve already decided to take a stance of superiority over the other person; that you’ve already labeled them as boring. And humans, we’re not boring creatures, not in the least bit. Every person you meet has a story, has experiences, has things that you’ll never understand, and to just dismiss that like it doesn’t matter, man, I could see why the other person would be so hesitant to share anything more than small talk with you.
Thanks for reading