There is a time and place for everything. I realize that a certain amount of small talk must happen between people because we probably shouldn’t come right out of the gate throwing around our political views, religious beliefs, or details of our failed relationships. To get to know people, we must be willing to put up with some playful banter so we can then work towards discussing the things that matter. My problem with small talk is not that it exists; I do agree that a certain level of small talk must occur. My problem with small talk is when people use this form of communication to avoid conversations of depth. When you have tried to communicate with someone more than once, and their preferred topic of choice is the weather, you can almost guarantee that my skin is slowly but surely starting to crawl. Not because the weather makes me uneasy, but because talking about the weather is unoriginal, and nothing new can be said about it. We get it. 70 degrees is a lovely temperature; Yes, it was far too hot the other day; and no, I did not get a chance to watch ‘the wicked lightning storm’ that happened last night. I simply have better things to do.
Small talk is lazy. Period. Maybe I sound a bit harsh, but hear me out: We can be so much better than small talk. I say this because I know what it’s like to have conversations that have literally changed the course of my life. You can meet one interesting person, and their perspective on various topics could be the thing that inspires you to try something new, face a fear, or challenge yourself to a new level. We can’t do that if we are constantly discussing the obvious, everyday parts of life.
We all react differently when it comes to holding a conversation with someone. Some of us may choose to hide behind small talk out of fear for giving someone a glimpse into who we really are. Some of us use small talk as a way to distract ourselves from the other conversations going on in our head. Some may even indulge in small talk because they haven’t really learned how to communicate outside of the box. All of these scenarios can be easily fixed by practicing how to hold more meaningful conversations. (Stick around. I will include some good conversation topics at the end of this post for those of you that may need a little help with what to talk about, or where to start!)
When we only engage in small talk, we are holding ourselves back from allowing true connections to be formed. Call me crazy, but I would rather hear about the intricacies between you and your siblings. Only child? What was that like? Do you think you face other challenges because of it? What keeps you up at night? Do you know what you want to do with the rest of your life? Do you ever fear never knowing what the answer to that is? Have you ever read a book that you can honestly say made you a better person? Do you have a vice that allows you to escape from your life temporarily? Have you ever talked to someone about it? If you could travel back in time, which year would you choose, and what would be the first thing that you would do? Do you enjoy staying up late while half the world is asleep? Or do you prefer waking up early before the sun does because that is when you feel like your best self? Have you, or are you, suffering from some kind of mental illness? If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, could you pick one? What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self? Dead or alive, which famous person would you want to meet? What do you think the purpose of all of this is? You? Me? The small moments? The big ones? Who are you really, and how do you believe you are seen by those around you? – I could keep going, but I think you catch my drift.
By being interested, we become interesting. Small talk is NOT interesting. It is simply just a filler of space and a distraction from deeper meaning. If we all challenged ourselves to have more in-depth conversations, I believe that many topics would become de-stigmatized. Maybe this sounds a bit far-fetched, but I think the world would get a bit kinder, more tolerable, and a lot less opinionated if we could just try and see life through someone else’s lens. That old saying of ‘take a walk in someone else’s shoes’…we need to do more of that. By never allowing conversations to move past small talk, we are not giving ourselves the chance to grow as people. In a sense, we are choosing to remain small. When we can talk about, and discuss big ideas, conversations can end up changing us for the better because we are welcoming room for thoughts outside of our own. Nobody ever achieved anything great by only using the information they have inside of them. There is not one person in this world that has the answers to it all. So, if we can have better, more meaningful conversations with each other, we can stop talking about the weather, and start opening our eyes to bigger ideas that are out there.
Do you want to have deeper conversations, but you don’t know exactly where to start? I have provided ten questions below that won’t come off as ‘too much’ or ‘too aggressive’. Who knows? Maybe their answers will change some of your current ideas, and perspective. There is only one way to find out, and spoiler alert, that won’t occur with small talk. We are better than that. Let’s be better than small talk.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate you.
If you were given one more month to live, how would you choose to live out the rest of your days?
If money was not a factor, what would you spend most of your time doing?
What was the first thing you were really good at?
Who is your favorite person other than yourself?
How do you want to be remembered?
Is all fair in love and war?
How much do you care about how other people think of you?
How would you describe your favorite day? What makes it your favorite?
What kind of friend do you try to be, or aspire to be?
Is there a place you have never been before, but for some reason, feel a desire to travel there?
By asking these questions, you are opening yourself up to new opportunities. Don't be afraid of getting to know people. This is how we grow as individuals. This is how we can become better than small talk.