Author Topic: God I suck at small talk  (Read 10090 times)

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #50 on: August 22, 2017, 08:54:37 AM »
^ Love love love! That's the kind of conversation I like, and how fast I like to get there (see posts above re: dog, tree, weird thing on sidewalk). It means at least one person needs to be willing to leap over the boring "Oh you know, same old same old" that JanF mentioned and offer something braver. In my books, that's the key.

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I read a lot of conversational books that tell you to ask other people questions, but then it starts to sound like an interrogation.

That's it!

And you just helped me identify why I feel intensely uncomfortable with one person in my life. I think she read those books. I feel like I'm being interrogated, or at least interviewed. She offers nothing about herself, and just keeps returning to questions about me. Plus I can see by her face I'm supposed to answer that everything is AWESOME and AMAZING, like she does. I don't -I answer for real- and the whole pattern stresses us both out ultimately.

shelivesthedream

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #51 on: August 22, 2017, 08:59:05 AM »
^ Love love love! That's the kind of conversation I like, and how fast I like to get there (see posts above re: dog, tree, weird thing on sidewalk). It means at least one person needs to be willing to leap over the boring "Oh you know, same old same old" that JanF mentioned and offer something braver. In my books, that's the key.

Quote
I read a lot of conversational books that tell you to ask other people questions, but then it starts to sound like an interrogation.

That's it!

And you just helped me identify why I feel intensely uncomfortable with one person in my life. I think she read those books. I feel like I'm being interrogated, or at least interviewed. She offers nothing about herself, and just keeps returning to questions about me. Plus I can see by her face I'm supposed to answer that everything is AWESOME and AMAZING, like she does. I don't -I answer for real- and the whole pattern stresses us both out ultimately.

I have two people in my life who are freakishly amazing at remembering things I have told them in previous conversations. I am dreadful at remembering anything anyone has ever told me about themself, so I am always startled when they bring up stuff! But one of them adopts the interrogation style and only ever offers really boring token things about herself, whereas the other is really good at doing some of her own talking about her cool job or new flat or imminent baby or book she's read or or or! Guess which one I'd rather talk to!

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #52 on: August 22, 2017, 09:03:58 AM »
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...one of them adopts the interrogation style and only ever offers really boring token things about herself, whereas the other is really good at doing some of her own talking about her cool job or new flat or imminent baby or book she's read or or or! Guess which one I'd rather talk to!

So helpful!! I had one of my Interrogations just a couple of weeks ago, and I've been trying to figure out what leaves me so uncomfy with such a "kind and caring" person. Such a relief to finally understand what's not working for me there!

ElleFiji

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #53 on: August 22, 2017, 09:24:34 AM »
...but then there are people who ask me NO questions. None. Ever. Except maybe an 'and you?' at the begining that they cut off the answer to. And they wonder why they don't know any stuff about me. Talking and listening is an awkward balance.

pbkmaine

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #54 on: August 22, 2017, 09:37:01 AM »
I stopped critiquing every little social interaction and stopped putting pressure on myself. After a while I stopped having anxiety about going to social functions and meeting new people. Not stressing out meant that I didn't go into these situations preloaded with fight-or-flight emotions so I could be calm and think and make conversation.

So important!

MsSindy

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #55 on: August 22, 2017, 09:54:46 AM »
I'll put in another vote for reading Quiet - for both introverts (and those you love them!).

I think about small talk in 2 ways/scenarios:
1) I'm just passing by and don't really want to get to know you - these are the polite acknowledgements to the neighbor, the cashier, the person on the bench next to me, and a lot of my co-workers.  I smile, I'm polite, I'll engage beyond hellos if they want.  But if they start peppering me with questions, my answers start to get real short - I don't share much with strangers.  (my neighbors rarely come outside, so yes, they are strangers to me)

2) We're confined in the same area for a while and/or I think you might be interesting (group hikes, parties):  here is where I will put in some more effort to be social and see if I connect with someone.  If the conversation seems to be strained (list of questions and not a flowing conversation), I'll politely excuse myself for (another drink, bathroom, fresh air, tie my boots).  If a conversation feels like work, then I don't invest any more effort in it - accept that we're not connecting and move on.

And for the record, I hate when relative strangers ask me questions like, "how'd you meet your spouse", "what books are you reading" - these are generally random questions that have no context and feel like an interrogation.  I'd rather the conversation went, "do you guys have kids?" (common question and they are trying to find common ground), "no, we went the dog route instead" (said with a chuckle)... and if they want to pursue the conversation, they can easily say, "oh, what kinds of dogs do you have?".... then it feels like more of a back and forth conversation where I can tell them a little something about my dogs, ask if they have any pets, and hopefully this leads to other topics if we have a vibe going.  It feels like a much more authentic conversation born out of genuine interest about me/them, not a set of questions they really don't care about the answer.  Now, if they don't ask me about my dogs (or something else), then I assume they're not really interested in a conversation... and that's cool, too.

The other tactic I might try if I'm trying to see if I might connect with someone, is explicitly ask them if they ever do X, Y, or Z (things I'm interested in).  If I get a hit on any one of those, then those are topics I can jump on to and get a good conversation going.  I rarely ask someone a question I'm not genuinely interested in the answer, unless I'm just being polite and perfunctory (ex: do you have kids?... for me, the last thing I want to hear about are the tales of your kids, especially if I don't know you/them).  Once I get to know you, then I'll probably ask about your kids because I'm interested in you/them.  Makes sense?

My MIL is the queen of chatting up everyone and anyone - walks up to complete strangers in the mall and asks them where they bought their pants because they look sensational.  Scolds me for not inviting the neighbor in for a drink (neighbor dropped of a mis-delivered mail).  She's just wired totally different than me.  She's fun to go out with though, because we get to be quite social, with virtually no work on my part!!

My husband is in-between.  He'll call up a Big Box store looking for something, "Hi Karl, this is Robert, how are you?  Great, hey, I'm looking for ...." and I tell him that no one cares what his name is.  And then we go to Big Box store, he finds Karl and re-introduces himself, shakes his hand, "we spoke on the phone".  Karl remembers him and somehow now they become pals and start chatting about stuff while Karl finds what my DH wants".  DH is just naturally friendly.... and he always gets great service because he's good at forming a genuine connection.  But damn, if he can't remember the details of the conversation or people's names!!

JanF

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #56 on: August 22, 2017, 12:50:35 PM »
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2) We're confined in the same area for a while and/or I think you might be interesting (group hikes, parties):  here is where I will put in some more effort to be social and see if I connect with someone.  If the conversation seems to be strained (list of questions and not a flowing conversation), I'll politely excuse myself for (another drink, bathroom, fresh air, tie my boots).  If a conversation feels like work, then I don't invest any more effort in it - accept that we're not connecting and move on.

I'm the person that people walk away from  );
The thing about conversations is that both sides should have something interesting to offer and I don't think I'm a very interesting person (yet! Still working on it).

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #57 on: August 22, 2017, 12:57:38 PM »
Another piece:

I can do it sometimes, and not others.
This morning I chatted up no fewer than six strangers within an hour.
Fun, easy (for me, there).

But three days ago I was at a Thing, and the norm was that everyone would share tables, eat their breakfasts and chit chat. Nope. I could tell it was a time I couldn't form words, give a crap, etc, so I sat alone, even turning my chair so that my back was to everyone. I felt a bit bad about not acting normal, but because at heart I'm really friendly and social and work to help others feel comfy, etc, I give myself the breaks as needed. The breaks are what make me able to do it the other times.

Basically, I do what I can and not what I can't, and that ends up working quite well.

Lentils4Lunch

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #58 on: August 22, 2017, 07:10:05 PM »

... Nope. I could tell it was a time I couldn't form words, give a crap, etc, so I sat alone, even turning my chair so that my back was to everyone. ...


This made me laugh and also you are awesome.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #59 on: August 22, 2017, 07:50:10 PM »
:)))))))   Thanks!

shelivesthedream

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #60 on: August 23, 2017, 06:26:51 AM »
I just had a perfect example conversation that I will transcribe here to illustrate what I posted above about both being fish and fishermen:

Enter me into a coffee shop cum patisserie to buy a "well done for slogging through this mega day" treat to look forward to. I order, and I'm feeling perky and up for a chat (or, like, any human interaction unrelated to work), so...

Barista: Hey, I like your shirt.
Me: Thanks! (I could have ended the conversation with that if I didn't want to talk.) I haven't worn it for a while but I was looking at the right hand side of my wardrobe and thought I'd get it out of purgatory.
Barista: Oh right. (She could have ended it here.) Do you have a section for unworn stuff?
Me: Yep. (Potential end.) I just hang everything up again on the left when it's clean so stuff I don't wear much migrates to the right.
Her: Cool system. (End.) I have a rail that goes front to back and doesn't pull out so it hard to get to anything not at the front.
Me: How peculiar. (End.) Still, better than folding everything! I've just moved and bought a wardrobe rather than drawers and I love not having to fold.
Her: Ugh, me too! (End.) My wardrobe's kind of in a shed, though, so everything's just sort of everywhere.
Me: A shed? What?
Her: It's not really a shed, it's a proper little building, but we're not allowed to sleep in it so we just keep all our clothes in there.
Me (actually ending the conversation): Sounds like a good solution. Well, thanks for the cake! Bye!

You see how I bit her small talk hook to start getting into an actual conversation and how we both kept giving more information to keep it going even though on almost every line of dialogue there was a potential end to the conversation? And then when I decided it was over, I just stopped saying anything additional/optional in response. As soon as either of us did that, the conversation was over, even if she had asked more questions.

I was feeling super social and switched on, so I kept throwing out more bait (and so did she) but it was a transaction in a coffee shop so we didn't steam straight towards anything heavy. However, we could easily have transitioned into something like "TELL ME ABOUT THE ILLICIT WARDROBE SHED IT SOUNDS FASCINATING".

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #61 on: August 23, 2017, 08:28:54 AM »
ha, yep :)
that's me 6-12x most days.
fun!

MsSindy

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #62 on: August 23, 2017, 01:57:31 PM »
I just had a perfect example conversation that I will transcribe here to illustrate what I posted above about both being fish and fishermen:

Enter me into a coffee shop cum patisserie to buy a "well done for slogging through this mega day" treat to look forward to. I order, and I'm feeling perky and up for a chat (or, like, any human interaction unrelated to work), so...

......


These are the fun conversations, when both parties have a good vibe going - it doesn't feel like work - totally love these moments!
Also, it worked because there was no pressure to make small talk.  As you pointed out, either of you could have ended it at any moment, with no hard feelings.

Optimiser

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #63 on: August 23, 2017, 05:41:59 PM »
I just had a perfect example conversation...

Thanks for posting this. I would love to be able to converse like that. I guess I need some focused practice.

Lentils4Lunch

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #64 on: August 23, 2017, 07:26:33 PM »
Ha. I had to laugh because I was having anxiety reading your post about the perfect convo. Whenever a stranger strikes up a convo with me in public, I'm spending at least 80 percent of my brain power trying to think of a polite, non-awkward way to exit the conversation.

Sometimes, after a drink or two, I loosen up enough to genuinely enjoy random conversations with strangers...

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #65 on: August 23, 2017, 07:40:13 PM »
^ If it helps, not only do I literally turn my back on entire social norms as needed, I also have zero issue if another does likewise with me. So, that perfect convo occurs maybe...I dunno...in 1 out of 4 bids? On a fabulous day, maybe 1 in 3. Some respond with cheery quips, but many respond with a weak smile, a blank gaze, a glance up at the moon, a frown into their newspaper... And it's not a problem. I know my bid just doesn't groove with them right now (and maybe ever). If I've tried twice with a person over time, and still nada, I let them be. But am ready again if they approach me.

Just because some of us try to connect, doesn't mean people have to run with it.

shelivesthedream

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #66 on: August 24, 2017, 02:31:32 AM »
Ha. I had to laugh because I was having anxiety reading your post about the perfect convo. Whenever a stranger strikes up a convo with me in public, I'm spending at least 80 percent of my brain power trying to think of a polite, non-awkward way to exit the conversation.

Sometimes, after a drink or two, I loosen up enough to genuinely enjoy random conversations with strangers...

I'll be honest, that was me on perfect conversational form, which happens about once in a blue moon! But things which help:
1. I have read many guides to conversation and practised a lot. Most of the time this is on manual, not autopilot. I have been actively practicing on some level for about ten years.
2. I have a selection of conversation topics at the back of my mind, and try to find a moment to bite and bring one of them in. Clothes is always a good one for me. I love clothes.
3. Let's be honest, when you're chatting to a barista you will probably never again, the stakes are low. Regular acquaintances are more difficult.
4. I have no qualms about deciding it's over and saying, "Well, nice to see you. Bye!" whenever I decide I'm all out of conversational vigour. Sometimes this involves going and hiding in a toilet until I can leave properly. Sometimes this involves me finding my husband, telling him I'm going home, and leaving him to enjoy himself. (People get weirdly upset when we leave events separately. Our long-term friends have kind of got used to it but still find it odd. I don't see why I should have to struggle on because he's not done or why he should have to cut short his evening because I'm done.) When I'm done, I'm done. (And you see how easy it is to end a conversation from my example above? You just stop offering extras. And in the first gap, take your leave.)

Optimiser

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #67 on: August 24, 2017, 10:52:33 AM »
When to the dentist today, and of course it didn't it occur to me that I should be prepared for small talk.

Dentist: What have you been up to lately?
Me: uh....working
Dentist: Did you watch the eclipse?
Me: Yeah, it was really cool.

Then I thought to myself "ugh this was a perfect chance to practice having interesting small talk," but I couldn't think of anything interesting to say or ask.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 11:11:41 AM by Optimiser »

Dollar Slice

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #68 on: August 24, 2017, 11:10:20 AM »
When to the dentist today, and of course it didn't it occur to me that I should be prepared for small talk.

Dentist: What have you been up to lately?
Me: uh....working

An acquaintance (who happens to be an incredibly interesting and friendly person and I always feel like a bit of a lump around him) caught me off-guard with this one earlier in the summer when I was in a really bad and anti-social mood, and he deftly answered my "oh, uh, been working a lot" with a question about whether I'll be able to take a vacation soon, and got me into a conversation about my upcoming surgery (which I'm using all my vacation time for), and managed to smoothly steer the convo into a funny story about a documentary he saw recently, and then an upcoming free film screening I might like, etc. etc. and I was left feeling totally cheered up and like he really cared about me. The power of being great at small talk. :-)
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shelivesthedream

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #69 on: August 24, 2017, 02:24:09 PM »
When to the dentist today, and of course it didn't it occur to me that I should be prepared for small talk.

Dentist: What have you been up to lately?
Me: uh....working
Dentist: Did you watch the eclipse?
Me: Yeah, it was really cool.

Then I thought to myself "ugh this was a perfect chance to practice having interesting small talk," but I couldn't think of anything interesting to say or ask.

The first step is realising you have a problem. :) (Seriously, identifying times when you could have made good small talk and what you could have said are the bedrock of practicing.)

teen persuasion

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #70 on: August 25, 2017, 08:55:15 PM »
Loving this thread.

I'm pretty introverted most of the time.  When I started working at the library, I didn't know many of the patrons (and it's in a small village where everyone knows everyone else), so I mostly just quietly checked out or in their books as needed.  Some of the Board members said I was too quiet. 

Eventually I got to know more of the regulars, and they got to know me, and I found it was getting easier to chat with patrons.  First, I simply responded to those gregarious souls who started right in with me.  Then I started trying to initiate with some patrons I didn't know as well.  There's lots of things for me to draw on at the library - if they are returning a popular or interesting book, I ask what they thought of it.  If they checkout a stack of DIY books, I ask what project they are contemplating.  Movies, music, magazines, all generate prompts.  We have flyers to promote events, people may ask about them, or I might tell them about an upcoming program.

So now I'm to the point I say at least Hello to everyone that passes my desk, and chit chat at least a little bit while checking out stuff for patrons.  The list of people I know by name has grown immensely, and lots of them like to banter a while.  It's fun knowing who wants to talk, who wants to listen, who always has a funny anecdote or interesting bit of history.  Some have a running joke they always reference good naturedly.

Bicycle_B

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #71 on: August 26, 2017, 10:00:19 AM »
^ Great examples, Teen Persuasion!

Here's another thought on How To Small Talk:  it can be an advantage to have an ongoing relationship, because you have time to think.  The trick I propose is to think about the person between conversations and hypothesize - not just process what they said or how they have acted in the past, but guess or project or speculate about how might react in the future.  Then when you see them, you already have questions to ask, or ideas on how to test your little theories about them.  For example, if they make a Star Wars reference, you guess that they like Star Wars, so you wonder if they would laugh if you describe yourself as a certain Star Wars character.  At some point when you see them, you try it.  Whether it works or not, it gave you something to say.  And if it works, it works.  I don't think you have to use set pieces every time, I just mean that a habit of thinking this way will mean that you are more likely to think of things to converse about, because you already have questions in your mind that a conversation could answer.  Presumably, you'll implicitly succeed in paying attention to them as well.  You don't have to spend a lot of time on it, just notice something, ponder for a minute, make a guess.  Now you can look forward to testing your guess when the opportunity arises.  Presto, rewards for your curiousity are sprinkled in.

I do this with friends and roommates now without thinking about it.  I used to be very passive and awkward conversationally, but now I have more range and active control in typical conversation. 
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 10:02:30 AM by Bicycle_B »

markbike528CBX

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #72 on: August 26, 2017, 10:47:26 AM »
--- largish snip...

When someone asks me what's new, my mind either goes completely blank or just can't come up with anything appropriate. "Uhh, let's see, my kid poops in the potty now, so that's been a real highlight of our lives lately......no, that won't do."

Lentils4Lunch (OP)... have you seen Facebook?   Apparently the potty poopy thing is AMAZING, given the number of posts about it (or similar 1st time parent/kid stuff).  In some circles that topic could be the start of an hour long conversation, mostly on that topic alone.

That being said, I'm pretty crappy about small talk.   I'm introverted, unless it is for some reason external to me (work, etc).  Even then I'm champing at the bit to end the small talk and get to the heart of the issue at hand.   I had issues with asking (my now wife) on our first date.   OTH, I've looked a very senior customer manager in the eyes and effectively asked for $1M (1 day of plant outage time).   

I'm not good at the snappy comeback.  I can only remember a few times when it came out at all and even fewer when it came out well (as in not really improvable in hindsight.

I've just learned to accept that my usual role in a conversation is the grunt of acknowledgement.  It is interesting how often that seems to work and the other person doesn't notice or mind it.   I just change the tone of the grunt once in a while to indicate my interest.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #73 on: August 26, 2017, 11:13:00 AM »
Quote
I just change the tone of the grunt once in a while to indicate my interest.

LOL! Awesome :)

Lentils4Lunch

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #74 on: August 28, 2017, 07:53:15 PM »
I have an example of my inability to engage in small talk. Just happened like ten minutes ago.

I'm at the checkout counter of the Dollar Tree. Checkout lady says to me: "I just cut my hair, it feels so weird." It was a kinda weird haircut. Shaved halfway up the head, then long on top, like shoulder-length long. She had it in a pony tail. I was kind of caught off guard and my mind went completely blank. I observed her hair cut. All I could manage was "oh, so is that like an undercut?" (I actually don't think that's the correct name of that haircut. Undercuts are a type of men's haircut, I think, but I'm no haircut expert.) So I think my silence made her nervous because then she kind of started to justify her haircut to me saying "it looks really good when it's down, I just needed something cooler in this heat" etc

I don't know why I couldn't just say "hey it's cool, kinda punk rock" or something but, nope, mind= blank. This creates more awkwardness and the silence just sort of hangs there between us as we wait for my credit card to go through... I know it doesn't really matter, this was just a lady at a check-out counter that I'll never see again, but it's a fairly typical example of my small talk ineptitude: The other person puts out a bid and I shut it down. I want to interact, but my brain is like "hey, I got nothing".

Reflecting on this now... I think this was why, when I was a kid, I preferred hanging out with friends in groups of three or more. One on one interactions were too much pressure to think of stuff to say!

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #75 on: August 28, 2017, 08:56:24 PM »
Quote
Reflecting on this now... I think this was why, when I was a kid, I preferred hanging out with friends in groups of three or more. One on one interactions were too much pressure to think of stuff to say!

Hey, I'm 100% like that :)
I love to play in groups, and otherwise to be alone.
Ugh, ugh, ugh to having to come up with stuff, make one person comfy, etc.
In a big group, I can be silent, observe, take turns, jump in, jump out, chat briefly (versus long) or just greet or hug with one after another, sit back. So good.

koshtra

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #76 on: August 28, 2017, 09:57:52 PM »
Yeah, that could totally be me. I'm less likely to go blank now than twenty years ago, but it can still happen any time. Suddenly being on the spot, being invited to comment on something I wasn't even aware of two seconds ago -- how do people do that?

dcamnc

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #77 on: September 01, 2017, 05:33:55 AM »
I'm so used to being bad at small talk, that I just embrace the awkwardness anymore. I gave up trying to avoid it; I almost enjoy seeing the other person squirm when the awkward silence happens.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #78 on: September 01, 2017, 09:02:48 AM »
Often I do really well with medium-to-large talk. This week three efforts at small went poorly. I introduced the topic of kanagroos' legs. No.

Lentils4Lunch

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #79 on: September 01, 2017, 11:26:39 AM »
Often I do really well with medium-to-large talk. This week three efforts at small went poorly. I introduced the topic of kanagroos' legs. No.

Ha!

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #80 on: September 01, 2017, 11:44:56 AM »
Often I do really well with medium-to-large talk. This week three efforts at small went poorly. I introduced the topic of kanagroos' legs. No.
I think the acceptable small talk topic this week was "What are your Labor Day plans?"

:)

How did Kangaroo legs come up?

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #81 on: September 01, 2017, 11:49:40 AM »
That's probably the issue -they didn't really come up.
I imagine I'm sometimes failing in the transition, lol.

I had set "watching kangaroo show" as a reward for completing some nonpreferred tasks.
I became intrigued by their movements.
Then I said to near-strangers, "I've been wondering how kangaroo legs work..."
Bah.

ketchup

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #82 on: September 01, 2017, 11:51:08 AM »
Often I do really well with medium-to-large talk. This week three efforts at small went poorly. I introduced the topic of kanagroos' legs. No.
I think the acceptable small talk topic this week was "What are your Labor Day plans?"
Yeah, I ran into that one yesterday.  Apparently "Oh, uh, is that this weekend? Do we have Monday off?" is not an acceptable answer.  I don't keep track of this shit.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #83 on: September 01, 2017, 11:54:18 AM »
Ha, well if you're FIRE'd, who gives a crap about a 3-day weekend? Especially since you aren't buying anything on the Labor Day sales anyways.

Kwill

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #84 on: September 01, 2017, 12:59:21 PM »
Here's another thought on How To Small Talk:  it can be an advantage to have an ongoing relationship, because you have time to think.  The trick I propose is to think about the person between conversations and hypothesize - not just process what they said or how they have acted in the past, but guess or project or speculate about how might react in the future.  Then when you see them, you already have questions to ask, or ideas on how to test your little theories about them.  For example, if they make a Star Wars reference, you guess that they like Star Wars, so you wonder if they would laugh if you describe yourself as a certain Star Wars character.  At some point when you see them, you try it.  Whether it works or not, it gave you something to say.  And if it works, it works.  I don't think you have to use set pieces every time, I just mean that a habit of thinking this way will mean that you are more likely to think of things to converse about, because you already have questions in your mind that a conversation could answer.  Presumably, you'll implicitly succeed in paying attention to them as well.  You don't have to spend a lot of time on it, just notice something, ponder for a minute, make a guess.  Now you can look forward to testing your guess when the opportunity arises.  Presto, rewards for your curiousity are sprinkled in.

I do this with friends and roommates now without thinking about it.  I used to be very passive and awkward conversationally, but now I have more range and active control in typical conversation.

This seems useful.

I tried a somewhat similar trick when moving to a new town. I tried to think of more familiar equivalents for the new people. Mostly I did this with male co-workers, who are a little harder for me to figure out and talk to than my female coworkers. For each, I picked someone I already know whose reactions I can guess and who I feel relatively comfortable speaking with. My manager has a similar personality to a friend from grad school. His boss has a similar personality to one of my father's cousins. Another co-worker is basically an Eeyore. Another one reminds me of my father. Now that I've been there awhile, I don't rely on this anymore, but it really helped to figure out how they operate and to make conversations easier and more productive.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 01:02:57 PM by Kwill »

FINate

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Re: God I suck at small talk
« Reply #85 on: September 01, 2017, 04:41:07 PM »
Ha, well if you're FIRE'd, who gives a crap about a 3-day weekend? Especially since you aren't buying anything on the Labor Day sales anyways.

+1 The only crap we give about weekends, three day or otherwise, is that these are the days we stay home and avoid the crowds. Weekends are for lounging and doing stuff around the house. The real action is during the week when everyone else is at work.