As introverts, we usually dread small talk. It’s awkward, sometimes forced, and just flat out boring. And don’t forget about the anxiety that builds up when you fear you’ll run out of things to say.
I mean, how long can you really schmooze for?
We all know how it goes. We make eye contact for a split second and rapidly look away to avoid further eye contact or a possible conversation starter.
Why do Introverts hate small talk so much?
It’s not that introverts don’t like people, they actually enjoy rich relationships and meeting new interesting people – they just dislike small talk mainly because it’s draining and they find it meaningless. Introverts are more deep, internal processors so they enjoy a much deeper conversation over a superficial, “The weather is terrible lately” talks. They prefer to know more about you and what makes you tick than just chit chatting about meaningless things just to avoid awkward silence.
But, in this day and age, we’re constantly in situations where we need to shoot the breeze. In line at the grocery store, with other parents at your child’s school or activities, with co-workers and customers, events like dinners or parties. Unfortunately, we can’t lock ourselves inside and avoid them all.
A better idea is to be a little more prepared for those awkward scenarios so you can feel more confident when those little chit chats come about.
Learning a few techniques can lessen the excruciating pain of having to deal with the dreaded small talk and boost your confidence so you come off more sharp and cordial.
Small talk most likely gives you some anxiety, so be easy on yourself and remind yourself it freaks you out because of things that have happened in the past, not necessarily what’s going to happen this time or every time for that matter.
Sometimes we work ourselves up because we think of worse case scenario and what others will think about us if we do or say something they might think is weird.
Something that has really worked wonders for me – as someone who used to ruminate and stew over every single thing I said and what that person might have thought about it or if I looked like an idiot – is reminding myself others opinions of me is none of my business. We’re not always going to hit it off or mesh with everyone, so give yourself a break and relax and just be you, you never know who will be drawn to the genuine you.
People love talking about themselves (not us introverts, but most people), so a good trick is to ask the person you’re engaged in small talk with about themselves. You can make it meaningful by getting to know more about someone and what they do, what they like, if they’re married, have kids, go to the gym, etc. You never know what kind of connections you can make so have an idea of basic questions you can always ask someone you’re chit-chatting with and then build on it from there. The more they start sharing the more you might realize you have in common or genuinely are interested in what they have to say.
The typical, “How are you doing? is usually followed by a “good, thanks” or “I’m fine.” Next time this happens try going into just a little more detail. If someone asks, How was your weekend? Instead of just saying it was good elaborate a little more and say something like, I was really nice, we finally got a chance to take our road bikes out for a ride. We went all over town, stopped at (name that place) for lunch and wound up doing just under 10 miles. My legs are pretty sore today though!
See how this can get people curious and you never know, they can have similar interests and share a story of their own, now that small talk turns into more a meaningful conversation where you’re getting to know someone.
Look for Signs
As introverts we’re often misunderstood and thought of as being snobby or uninterested, so look for indications that people may be getting the wrong impression or that you may be getting too intense about a topic (we’re very passionate about certain things!). If someone seems like they’re getting a little antsy or repeatedly looking around know that’s your cue to cut back a bit.
Be sure to have a warm and genuine smile going when you’re at a social event so people don’t get the wrong impression that you’re unapproachable or not willing to engage in an interesting chat with.
Be Easy on Yourself
Let’s be honest, sometimes social interactions are just as bad as getting a tooth pulled, but keep in mind it’s definitely not the end of the world even if it doesn’t go the way you hoped for.
As an introvert, you are an internal processor and can think very deeply about something so it’s easy for you to linger on or overthink the situation to the point where you get upset, angry, anxious or flustered.
Cut yourself some slack and try not to overanalyze every little thing that happened, or that could happen. More than likely the people you’re interacting with are feeling just as nervous, or thought maybe they said something wrong or were also trying to find things to talk about.
Never go by what’s happening externally, everyone has something they’re nervous about or feel uncomfortable doing or struggle with, but won’t necessarily show it.
There’s a difference between being rude or disrespectful and just being authentic and genuine. There’s something about honesty that attracts people and allows them to relax. Using your authenticity to deepen the conversation opens up a whole new door of opportunity.
Maybe just tell someone you’re introverted and you don’t often come to these kinds of events because you tend to get overwhelmed. Or if someone asks your opinion about a topic and you’re not really into it just say it! I’m not too interested in that myself but it’s cool to hear about your experience.
Find a Takeaway
No matter what happens or how the situation goes you can always learn something new. What can you do a little different next time? What will you never do again? What felt good and you’d like to stick to that?
No matter how far you’ve come in our personal journey you’re always going to be learning more and more about yourself, your traits, your habits, your likes and dislikes and the only way for that to happen is to experience them.
Try some of these tips out the next time you have something coming up that you know you’ll have to mingle with some new people or people you don’t know so well and see how differently it goes. Being prepared and having tools to give you some confidence and set you up for success is key.
Are you feeling like you're totally absorbed in your thoughts that have just taken over? Do you feel alone and like no one gets it or understands?
If you answered yes, then you might just be a highly sensitive introvert who is overloaded with internal processing and thinking patterns, but just don't quite get how to handle it all.
Not being aware of your introverted or highly sensitive personality type can put a damper on your self-esteem, decrease your sense of worthiness, cause tons of overwhelm, and just flat out make you feel like there's something "wrong" with you.
The first step towards to moving forward with your struggles is to get a better understanding of your personality type, so let's grab a virtual cup of coffee and I'll help you gain some clarity and figure out some steps to get you feeling more confident in yourself!