Are you an introvert like me who hates small talk with a passion? The moment you get to a party or networking event you get this wave of anxiety.
You wonder how much mindless banter you’ll have to endure before you can go home to sweet solitude. Don’t get me wrong.
It’s not that introverts hate people. Nor do we necessarily hate talking. Our disdain for small talk centres around three key factors:
We have a different communication style than extroverts
While extroverts tend to cover many topics on a superficial level, introverts seek depth in conversations. We prefer to focus on one or two topics that we actually care about.
We also need more time to think before we speak than extroverts. Small talk doesn’t always allow for this more thoughtful approach. People expect quick, short answers, which can make introverts feel rushed.
We don’t care about the small stuff until we know you
Introverts aren’t really interested in hearing little tidbits about your day until we know and like you.
If you’re our friend, we want to know what you ate for lunch, and what you plan on doing after work. But we find it hard to muster up that kind of genuine interest in someone we’ve just met.
We are drained by superficial interactions
Socializing is draining for introverts, because we are easily overstimulated. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the type of socializing matters.
When introverts are having meaningful conversations with close friends, the sense of connection actually energizes us.
Superficial conversations with people we’ve just met, on the other hand, quickly sap our energy. Don’t even get me started on group conversations.
It’s rare to be part of a group conversation that includes anything but very superficial small talk. The combination of more people, more noise, and less meaning really drains our social batteries.
If you’re an introvert who hates small talk, don’t worry. There are ways to make small talk suck less. You can even transform it into a meaningful conversation that leads to real friendship.
Here are tips to make small talk more meaningful:
Look for connection jump-off points.
During those first few moments of predictable small talk a person will usually provide you with “connection jump-off points”. These are things that they share that you can use as a springboard to launch into more interesting conversation.
For example, if they mention that they did some gardening on the weekend, you can expand on that topic by asking more about their hobby or sharing a relevant story.
Provide ample connection fruit.
Just as you’re looking for jump-off points in conversation, so is your partner. Make it easy for them to expand on what you share by providing ample “connection fruit”. This means that you share little clues about who you are and what’s important to you.
Instead of giving short answers that lead to a conversation dead-end, offer a little extra information. For example, if they ask you how your day was, instead of saying “good”, try saying something like this:
“My day had a lot of ups and downs. But the highlight of my day was definitely [insert best part of your day].”
Tell them how you FEEL about things
Boring conversations lack color. Emotions make lacklustre conversations vibrant and interesting. For example, if you just watched a move, rather than just saying it was good or bad, say you loved it, or you hated it. Also, let them know how the movie made you feel:
“It gave me shivers.”
“I felt terrified.”
“It made me feel so nostalgic.”
I have about a bazillion more tips on how to have interesting conversations as an introvert. I share many of them in my Introvert Conversation Cheat Sheet. Grab a free copy here.
Over to you
Are you an introvert who hates small talk? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! ?
Wonderfully insightful article Michaela. Well written. 🙂
I agree about us having a different communication style from extroverts and that can cause some clashes. I’ve had that happen a lot. I’m not interested in the small stuff about someone’s day instantly after I meet them. It really does take a little while.