Small Talk

We’re Indian. Which means that even if we don’t know someone, we kind of sort of know them. So when we run into them at social events, we have to make small talk. It’s how we socialize. It’s how we get to know people. And it’s how we make sure that it’s not awkward when we see them again.

I spent a 30 minute ride home with a family friend who I’ve known my whole life in almost complete silence. Her daughters are really good friends of mine so I asked how they were doing. And that was the end of our conversation. We just had nothing to talk about. I couldn’t even think of what to say so I just sat in silence until I reached home.

There are times I will run into people that I have met before and be at a complete loss of what to say to them. Other than the standard “how are you doing” and “what are you up to”, I have nothing to say. I know small talk comes easily to some people but I’m not sure how.

I have a cousin who once told me that she manages to start conversations by just asking people about themselves. She found that people love talking about themselves and this helped her jump start any conversation. Is it that I’m not that interested in people? Or maybe it’s just that I’m too scared to start talking about anything. Maybe I’m worried what’ll people will think of me.

It’s interesting to me that that insecurity is still around. I’m at a place that I’ve established myself. I know who I am. And if I say something that everyone doesn’t like, should I even worry that much about it? I am well aware that everyone might not like me at this stage in life.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve done my job making new friends over my whole life and now, it’s harder. Now, we really have to make an effort to know someone else. Now, we have to try to find common ground that isn’t just provided to us. Before, we made friends of circumstance. We went to school with someone, they lived near us, we were in the same social group outside of school. It takes a lot to pass the insecurity we might have in order to make new friends.

Now, we have to work at it, especially if it’s a situation where you are truly there just to make friends. You have to put yourself out there. You have to find a way to make the small talk so that you can really get to know the people that you meet.

Small talk. Fun, huh?

It’s All Fake

So when you go out to a social event, do you see the people that you never talk to other than at that type of event? Do you go up to them, say hi, make small talk, only to go home and not talk to them again until the next social event? My question is why. I’m wondering why people make that effort if we, in reality, are not impressed or don’t make a connection to the person we are talking to. If no further effort is going to be made, then why spend any time at all bothering to say hi? I’m not talking about the people who you potentially might start a friendship with. I’m talking about those people who have met you again and again and again and nothing changes.

Or is this just a step in the social ladder?

What about those people you just don’t like? There doesn’t have to be a specific reason but sometimes, there are people that have some sort of personality difference that you don’t get along with. Do we have to pretend to like them?

I can’t. I just can’t fake it. I don’t have the energy to pretend to be nice to someone I don’t respect or don’t like. Usually, when this happens, it’s after a few opportunities to try to at least be civil acquaintances. If that effort doesn’t work, then I usually end up ignoring the person or just saying a quick hi and not bothering with the small talk. I don’t try to be rude.

Does this make me a bad person or just honest? At least, people will know where they stand with me. What would you do?