Here we go again – I got an interesting question from a reader, about small talk. I wanted to share with you our interaction, I’m sure you’ve found yourself in the same situation. So, here is Claire’s question…
—— Question from Claire
Hey Paul, I’ve read your book, Get The Friends You Want a few weeks ago, and I feel pumped about my social life. I’m ready to talk to people, I’ve gotten back in touch with a few old friends, and even gotten myself to go out and meet some new folks down at the gym in my building.
I also found myself socializing more and more at work. I work in a huge office building and have the opportunity to mingle with many, many people.
However, I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to ever get along with “normal” people. I find that the topics they discuss are too mundane. Nothing that interesting.
I mean, yeah, I know “how awesome your new kale juice formula is”… but come on! there are million of those on the web, should we really discuss that through and through?
This is what discourages me: people seem to go over and over on subjects that have been discussed and “solved” already. I yearn for more interesting and exciting conversations.
What should I do to regain any hope that people will seem interesting to me, again, if ever? Please help!
Thanks for your amazing work, I couldn’t do without it!
Claire // from OC, California
—— My answer
Well, Thank you, Claire, for the nice words, and for such an interesting question.
Let me start by congratulating you on your progress! I love it when people actually report on their success.
Now to your question. I have to tell you that you’re right… and wrong. It depends on how you look at it.
Bear with me here, let’s dive in, and you’ll get your answer at the end.
People go on and on about mundane subjects, they seem to only talk about things in a rather, superficial way.
But you’re wrong in assuming that that’s all there is
Yes, people do seem superficial at first, but that’s far from being everything they are. It’s just a first impression. It’s actually, like I explain in the book, what small talk is all about.
Small talk allows you to touch base, shoot the breeze, create comfort, and FIND THINGS IN COMMON. Many people hate small talk – but I think the’re mostly misguided. How would you get to the good, meaningful conversations if you don’t even know what you RELATE ON?
Small talk also gives you an idea of the mood of the other person. So you can adjust to that, or at least take it into account.
Small Talk is how you avoid being OFF-BEAT when socializing.
This is how you avoid being OFF-BEAT when socializing. The main reason that happens is that people don’t take into account the mood of the other person. Socially skilled people always calibrate their socializing to the other person’s mood and what’s going on generally.
Let me give you an example
– You go to the gym in your building, have a good workout, and as you’re leaving, you bump into a neighbor you like. You start chatting them up, and instead of asking a few questions to know “what’s up?” you directly start talking about the technicalities of your workout…
You know, that’s FINE, but risky. What if they’re not in the mood to talk about working out – I know they’re just getting inside the gym, but…
What if all they’re thinking about is the party they’re having that evening. If you don’t have a bit of small talk: ask what’s up, how are things going, etc… you would never get invited or even know that there is a party later.
In any case, if you do take the time to “shoot the breeze,” you might stumble on a lot more opportunities for connecting with others.
This is also the case if you have a very specific preference (for music, as an example),… how would you know if other people have or don’t have that same preference?… Again, small talk gives you that ability.
So, what should you do?
Practice small talk, as explained in chapter 4 – practice talking more and more to people – practice going from subject to subject without getting too deep in any of them. That’s how you get good at socializing. Small talk is your friend, not your enemy! Embrace it, use it, and let it help you get to know and discover the best people around.
Good luck, and please write back the results! Keep it up!
– Paul Sanders
PS: If you haven’t read the eBook, Get The Friends You Want, I recommend that you get on it right now, and take the steps to having a better social life: overcome shyness/loneliness, learn top conversation techniques, acquire the critical social skills, and make friends with the people you always wanted in your life.
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