Saturday, August 7, 2010
Small Talk Bites
I used to love to chat about anything and everything. It's no surprise to me that many have asked if I ever stop talking. Yet lately, I dread useless chit chat. I feel like a complete bore and talking about nothing just reinforces it. For once, I don't have anything to say.
Now, when I anticipate a social setting, I try to think ahead of potential conversation topics, which usually just raises my anxiety because I seem to know nothing about pop culture. Lost, Glee, True Blood -- I've never watched any of these shows. By the time I hear about them, I'm three seasons behind. Movies, music, books .... it's depressing just thinking about how unread I've become. Sports? Pif! Politics? zzzzzzzz. NO ONE wants to hear about my job. Even the environment, which I used to be passionate about, is a bore for me.
Ten years ago I remember avoiding colleagues with young kids. Now, single people avoid me -- my kids are my life. I get the same reaction that I give people who talk about their pets -- "please, just stop, I've already stopped listening". I even dread it when someone asks me about my weekend. Everyone's weekends are pretty much the same -- some sort of scheduled activity for the kids, chores, perhaps an uneventful outing to the park or a museum, visit with family, done.
So how do you move beyond small talk to something more profound? I'm not looking to find what we have in common -- I want to hear about what's different from what I already know. How can I get to know my friends better? Listening is always a good start. I've been wanting to improve that for some time, but haven't made much headway.
There's a lot about people that I'd like to know. Maybe I should just come out and ask them. When I look at this list of conversation starters, I don't know the answers for my partner, sister or good friends, which is pretty sad. But how can I work these in at the office, really? Maybe I'm just being nosey. Anything to get past the smalltalk. It's too painful to bear.
One thing's for sure, when people ask me on Monday how my year off has been, I'll give them three sentences and turn it back on them -- how has THEIR year been. I don't want to hear myself blab. I want to take a backseat and just hear from others.