Cut the Small Talk: An Introvert’s Tips for Better Conversation

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I am an introvert. I would rather be alone than in a crowd and socializing exhausts me. The worst thing in the world to me is small talk. I am terrible at it! I am awkward and uncomfortable and I’m most likely to avoid it altogether. Yes, I am the mom who avoids eye contact, who walks by perfectly good friends without saying hello, and who turns in the opposite direction when I see someone I know in the stores. It’s not to avoid you (I promise) but to avoid the meaningless, small talk that comes soon after eye contact.

For my job, it is required that, sometimes, I interview someone- (usually a stranger). I realized that while I am terrible at small talk, I am pretty good at “real” conversation! I don’t mind chatting and catching up. It’s easy for me to can carry on a conversation.

I do much better in a situation where I know that the conversation is leading somewhere, instead of going nowhere. Most introverts are the same way! Those quick, mindless “how do you do’s” make us feel rushed and unimportant. We’d rather hide than have a face to face conversation! As adults, avoiding conversation can come across as rude, stuck up, and immature. We have to learn better ways to communicate!

With a background in journalism and some strengths of an introvert, I have learned a few tips that have helped me communicate better and I am going to share them with you. Hopefully, these help you to cut the small talk, too!

Observe

Did you know that this is actually one of an introvert’s strengths? We are great at observing and watching people. Can you tell she is in a rush? Does she look like she is having a bad day? Did she make eye contact with you? There is a good chance she is trying to avoid small talk, too! Are you friends on social media? Is there something she recently posted about that you can bring up in conversation? Talk about that! Have you spotted a commonality between the two of you? Point that out!

Compliment

I love this tip because a sincere compliment can get the conversation flowing and I guarantee a compliment will make someone’s day! I always look for something to compliment the will lead me to ask questions. For example, if I compliment her necklace, that may lead to her telling me about the cute little hole in the wall shop she found them it! You can compliment a mom on how well-behaved her child is or ask where she found that adorable outfit the child is wearing. Here is another tip: Pick one thing to compliment, lots of compliments tend to get creepy!

Ask Questions

We ask “How are you?” in passing. Sometimes we don’t even slow down and wait for the person to answer. This is the small talk I’m trying to avoid! I can’t even tell you how many friends I’ve walked by without even acknowledging! The thing is… I know how they are because I following them on social media. I know they were at the beach yesterday, got ice-cream on the way home, and her son spilled his drink into his new car seat. Social media makes it so easy to avoid conversation. We don’t ask questions because we already know… but do we? Ask open-ended questions! What beach? What ice-cream shop? Did you ever get that car seat cleaned? How?

Listen

This one seems obvious but you wouldn’t believe how many people actually lack this skill! Introverts are great listeners! We would rather let others talk! How many times have you introduced yourself to someone and after talking for a little bit, you’ve forgotten their name? It happens. This could happen because we are either forgetful.. or because we were too busy thinking of things to say that we forgot to listen.

Recall

This is an important tip because it ties all the tips together! Remember that time you complimented her necklace and today she is wearing another cute one? Tell her she has the best taste in jewelry and tell her that you need to invite her on a shopping trip. Did you see her Facebook post a while back, looking for a babysitter? At the time you couldn’t think of someone, but recently you met a girl that would be great. Bring it up!

Small talk for an introvert can be awkward… but it doesn’t have to be! It is actually an essential part in building relationships and with these tips, you are well on your way to cutting the small talk and having deeper more meaningful conversations!

 

 

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Kim McNeely
Kim grew up in a small town in northeast Alabama. She majored in journalism in college at Faulkner University. There she met baseball-playing Florida boy named David who swept her off her feet and then married her. David went right into a teaching/coaching career and Kim lost her desire to write. Before kids, she worked in insurance and as an office administrator. In 2008, they started a family and Kim fell in love with motherhood. She has been working as a stay at home mom for almost 10 years, occasionally, letting the laundry pile up and devoting her time to raising three children. Her kids have grown up on the ball field cheering on their daddy's baseball teams. They moved to Brandon just over a year ago and have enjoyed exploring Tampa. Kim likes being creative and crafty. She is a list-maker, scheduler, and planner. She loves planning play dates, parties, and budget-friendly family activities. Kim spends her days convincing her nine year old, Emerson, to wash her hair; teaching her kindergartener, Everly, sight words; and making sure her curious two year old and only son, Easton, isn't playing in the toilets. She loves children's books and reading bedtime stories. If she finds some free time, she writes her blog, catches up on her favorite TV shows, scrolls social media, and folds massive piles of laundry. Her desire to write returned when she realized that her children were an endless source of inspiration. You can follow Kim as she documents and finds ways to soak in every ounce of her children's childhood on Facebook, Instagram, and on her blog as The Sentimental Mom.

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