Thursday, June 07, 2012

small talk and the art of conversation

I am currently working in a (great) job that largely entails talking to people.  I get to attend forums and presentation by amazing people, be part of challenging conversations, and also teach others about aspects of business and leadership.

But here's my secret - well it was until now!  I loathe small talk.  I'm simply not very good at it, and my ''results based'' personality is completely at odds with chat about the weather, the short what-do-you-do kind of conversations that invariably fill the first half an hour of a networking function, and the kind of talk that is required when sitting at a table with a group of strangers.

I've been doing this kind of work for the best part of 20 years, and yet still I struggle to cope with this stuff.  And yet I teach people how to do it effectively!  If there's a purpose to the gathering - and therefore a subject to kick off the conversation with, then I can do that well.  If it's a planned meeting with someone I've never met before I have a few stock topics to fall back on.  But to strike up with a stranger that I know I am unlikely to ever see again, well that fills me with dread.

How about you?  Are you good at idle chat?  Do you see value in ''small talk'' or do you tend to leap right in to serious discussion?  How is this received?


Nikki Noo said...

Not too great at small talk either, but I generally use it as a challenge to learn about them, you never know, you may run into them again and it's always flattering to have someone you only met briefly remember something about you.

susan said...

absolutely. if i ever meet you i'll remember that too!!

Anonymous said...

I hate and am horrible at small talk, too.