Why Introverts Hate Small Talk

laurie helgoe introvert quote

Whether you call it chit-chat, banter or chatter, small talk has the same troubling effect on introverts.  It pushes us to the edges of a room.  It is the reason we are reluctant to meet new people.  It is one of those social pleasantries that is inherently unpleasant.

Small talk, you see, is an introvert’s kryptonite. Tweet this

Our distaste for small talk might cause some people to think we are socially inept or snobby. They imagine us turning our noses up at something that goes to the core of our culture.  They assume that we don’t like chit-chat because we don’t like people.  In reality, the opposite is true.

Introverts recognize that small talk creates boundaries between people. Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, explains our sentiments well:

“Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”

Unfortunately, our culture has deemed small talk a social necessity. Wikepedia even went so far as to describe it as a “social lubricant”, which makes it sound a whole lot more fun than it actually is.

Small talk is meant to be light and fun. It flees from depth and meaning. Personal questions are considered inappropriate.  Likewise, any emotion besides happy or neutral is discouraged.  Consequently, authenticity dies on the vine.

The truth is that small talk allows two people to have an entire conversation without really getting to know each other.

Instead of being light and fun, the conversation is flat and boring.  It is like a game of chess where both players always know each other’s next move.  It is a predictable exchange with predictable results.

Sometimes small talk can provide a slippery surface to slide into deeper topics.   It can also help us network, make new friends and make a good first impression.

For introverts, it is one of those annoying hurdles we must cross to get to the good stuff.  We indulge in it hoping that we will meet someone who hates this formality as much as we do.

We wait for that brave soul who asks inappropriate questions and laughs at all the wrong times. We cling to the hope that our path will collide with someone who is unapologetically authentic. We are ever in search of people who crave depth over breadth.

More than anything, we hope that just beyond the barrier of superficial banter we will find true connection.

We know we’ll have to endure some small talk to get what we want.  But don’t expect us to like it.

 

Xo,

Michaela-Signature

 

michaela chung

100 Comments

  1. Not sure you’re right. I don’t like small talk much because I’m not good at it. But I do note it comforts some friends because they can still make a connection with me when they are not up to deep conversation. Especially very old people. On the other hand, in my family we always had deep and meaningful conversations and yet, when my mother died I realised I didn’t know her as well as I thought. Some people become adept at sounding deep and meaningful while saying nothing. Because revealing something in some families can be dangerous. So, I like people, I’m not good at small talk and sometimes dread social situations but I don’t see small talk as lacking in value or creating barriers

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    • Good insight. Many of us have been burned by family members who gossip, distort, even lie about the secret, sacred things we share from our heart. It’s sometimes easier to avoid vulnerability by engaging in small talk.

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      • Couldn’t agree more.

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      • You are 100% correct I’ve never liked small talk or gossip it seems extroverts love it they master it stimulating conversation is the far best it makes you think as small talk drains you.

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    • Thank you so much for this. This is absolutely how I feel.

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    • spot on regarding small talk. except with family, i have been more cautious over work and colleagues though.

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  2. I don’t hate small talk. It’s more that I see it as a necessary evil. Yes, it’s fairly predictable and usually the content is not important. However, it helps us to get a sense of people’s personalities and teaches us how to interact with them. It does give us boundaries; it lets us feel out comfortable areas for conversation. It gives us direction of where to go deep without crossing lines.

    It’s part of the social contract because it’s so routine that it becomes comfortable and mundane and gives us a safe place to start interaction with anyone, regardless of our differences.

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    • I would agree with the ‘necessary evil’ comment, but that doesn’t make me any less frustrated that this ‘evil’ is considered necessary by society. As someone with a limited charge in their social battery, it seems wasteful to drain it on conversations that don’t really go anywhere. And unfortunately, as much as I try to practice it, small talk has yet to become comfortable for me.

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      • Well said, Kris. If we only have so much energy, small talk is definitely not the best way to spend it.

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      • fuckSociety.

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  3. I think you hit it bang on, for me any way! I can engage in a conversation with a topic but hate the how are you doing? How is so and so crap! I can do it for a few exchanges and then I am done. Its not even about being uncomfortable for me its I don’t care, honestly with social media I pretty much know what everyone has been up to, so why rehash it. I would not be offended if someone asked me a invasive question I would answer it or I wouldn’t.  I thought a lot about it yesterday when I was at a funeral with family I had not seen in years. 50 different people with how are you doing? Haven’t seen you in a while…and I watched as every one shared in their meaningless conversations, fake smiles that will hold until the next funeral or wedding. My favorite is the closing statement as you say good bye to everyone ‘we should get together more and not just at funerals and weddings’, haha ok I will wait for the phone to ring…oh i should call ..what ever!. I honestly do not know a single one of them personally, except their name and relation to me and maybe what they do for a living. I have engaged in conversations with people who I thought were genuinely offering to assist me in doing something and yet three years later I have yet to hear back. Turns out it was polite conversation with no substance, i actually avoid the person because why engage in something so blatantly unauthentic. I would really rather get to know some one on a deeper level and not base anything on a facade they create in a 15 min window. Glad I found this page, made sense to me personally!

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    • Absolutely spot on word for word perfect.

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      • Oh yes, I totally get you there! It’s like, as soon as someone says, “We should get together more often” you know they probably won’t do it. Granted, sometimes there’s a good reason for it (personally I have a hard time with get-togethers since I have chronic health problems that leave me with little energy to begin with, much less to socialize with people I barely know). But overall, people just don’t care all that much, I think!

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  4. You may also enjoy the book: “Quiet.”

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  5. Small talk people have a tendency to brag. Either about a new car, about their fabulous love life, about their trip to Paris. It’s primarily flaunting about the things in their lives. Then they have that look of pity when your life isn’t as spectacular.

    I’ll go out of my way to avoid it and to join in. I don’t need their pity or the highlights.

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  6. I really enjoy this post. Im not sure whether im a extrovert or an introvert because i will walk into the office and ask everyone how they are because i do actually care. BUT my pet HATE is when people feel the need to drone on and on about something really mundane they did, in my head im asking ‘why do you want to tell me this, surely there will be a point to this’ but i find myself going ‘oh right, wicked…yeah cool’ and trying to get away. Family and close friends i can enjoy this type of chat more. I find small talk abit like what another user said; a platform for boasting where the only way you can reply is to either look like you have low self esteem and be like wow your amazing, or boast yourself lol (I boast back now, the awkward silence after is just too funny). I love sharing ideas or even humor when both people are on the same page, but its got to be two ways, i cant do sit an listen to one big fat gob.

    But I agree, small talk creates barriers because it stops those who maybe have something meaningful to say from bothering. Food for thought, maybe those who can only do small talk are infact the ones who are socially unfortunate, as i find these individuals cant actually maintain a real enduring conversation.

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  7. I agree that small talk is a barrier to really getting to know someone. At my age (67) I have to listen to many boring stories about people’s grandchildren and look at pictures of these children who are strangers to me. I smile and act interested because that is socially appropriate behavior. Meanwhile, I’m thinking up excuses for leaving. If you tell someone you have a child (or grandchild), what are you revealing about yourself that is not true of hundreds of millions of other people on this planet? If you tell somewhat what you do for a living – again how unique is that? If you really want someone to truly KNOW you, tell them your views on the meaning of life, how you think consciousness emerged, and innumerable other philosophical topics. Of course, if the first thing out of your mouth when you meet someone is, “What do you think is the meaning of life?” you’re likely to see an expression like a deer caught in the headlights. People seem to need a little meaningless chit-chat first. Let’s call it foreplay 🙂

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    • Haha, yes, a little bit of conversational foreplay is often needed, Marie. Too bad most people never get to the good stuff.

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      • I can't tell you how bang on this card is!!! (it feels like you pull these cards just for me:)- you are a gem!)I feel like the ending is still happgnine, continuing to make way for the new and clarity and focus are returning bit by bit with each opening.

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    • I liked your comment about asking someone what is the meaning of life and they looking like a deer caught in headlights–made me laugh out loud (or LOL as they say). Being an introvert and also shy I find I tend to babble on about my cat and think afterwards that I probably bored to death the person I was talking to. I also don’t quite understand when someone says something that is not remotely funny and everyone laughs (except me, I end up looking like the only one that didn’t get the “joke”)

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    • Although I am not sure, but I would call myself an introvert. I am fond of having a philosophical conversation. After moving to a new country, I just crave for it with someone. I do avoid small talks, but on the other hand, I try to engage myself in the small (also mundane) talks, because as you said the foreplay is socially more acceptable. So far, I am getting more and more philosophical just to myself, without having anyone to discuss on it. I know there are people out there, but everyone is bounded in the social norms. Well, another thing I have realized that its not that bad at all, as it is making me artistically more expressible and creative.

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    • wow.. You nailed it

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  8. I typed into Google “why do I hate small talk” and I got you guys or this site. This is so cool. I think I am an extrovert but regardless I hate small talk mostly with family. There is no depth, no learning, no life experience shared and let’s be honest it is boring. I have family & friends that tell me step by step about their day or where they went and how they got there, street names, oh my god.. Calgon take me away!
    I can deal with it for about 5 minutes, maybe 10 and then I find a way to move on to the next small talk family member 🙂

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    • Hi Susan! I love hearing how people find this site. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you can relate to my hatred of small talk even if you aren’t an introvert! 🙂

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  9. I also googled “why SI i hate small talk” and found this! Its SO true in how i feel! I will def have to read more things in this site since am i finally discovered that my personality is that of an invert lol!

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  10. I can relate 100%. People always ask me if I’m sad or melancholic because I don’t fake a smile every minute. I’m a strong believer in diplomatic talk and politeness but this kitch-fake happiness everyone is trying to project isn’t the way.

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    • Exactly! People don’t even know how to express their true emotions anymore because they’re so used to hiding them.

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  11. I also stumbled upon this site after having a conversation with my family about what I call ‘hairdresser questions.’ I had wondered if I had some form of social anxiety because there are some social situations such as dining in glittery-glarey restaurants where the waiters hang about like flies and advance you on to ask…. You know the sort of thing. However I passed the Social Phobia Inventory test that indicated that I had no social anxiety at all. So I looked up ‘I hate small talk’ and came here. I think you have written very well about this ‘problem’ that shouldn’t be a problem, Michaela, and thank you for that. I went to the hairdresser the other day, and my hair was cut in silence, thank God. I was not asked ‘what-my-plans-were-for-the-rest-of-the-day’ and it was only when I left, happy and pleased with my hair, that I realised it was probably because I’d had the cheap £10 haircut, and that didn’t come with fake interest in my daily life, hooray for that, I’ll be going there again.

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    • Hi Rebecca. I’m so glad you found your way here! I think a lot of introverts are ‘selectively awkward’. I too feel uncomfortable in certain situations and totally confident in others. Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

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  12. First of all, thank you for writing about this. I always thought that my lack of social interaction with people was due to my inherent cynical personality, but reading this made me realize that it is normal for people to recognize the barrier created by chit chatting and in turn become hateful of it.

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    • Absolutely, Frank. Lots of people despise small talk! Glad that my article could help you realize that. 🙂

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  13. In the beginning it maybe really helpful to talk about a “harmless” subject (for example about my cats or something else) with foreign people, so we can “warm-up” which each other. But even when talking just about “cats”, I would prefere to share “deep thoughts” about this. I can’t get “close” to foreign people with “small talk”. – A pal invites me to her birthday since years. Always the same guests are present, but still I don’t “know” anybody, alike they don’t “know” me, because of damn “small talk”. – I really HATE “small talk” 🙁

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  14. I absolutely loathe small talk, especially in groups where they’re all yammering about something totally meaningless, talking at the same time, laughing at nothing, constant stupid banter. It makes me glassy-eyed and drains every last drop of my energy. Cannot stand it. I like talking to people, preferably one-on-one about something interesting, serious or deep.

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    • My goodness. I feel the exact same way. It’s exhausting.

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  15. I don’t like the phrase, “introverts hate small talk.” How about, “introverts hate idle chit-chat without any substance or meaning.” I used to think small talk was only idle chit-chat until I read the book, “The Fine Are of Small Talk” by Debra Fine. Use small talk to your advantage. It is how you find people who share your interests so that you can have a more meaningful and deep conversation. Otherwise, you spend most of your life, like I have, saying to people, “hi, how are you doing?” and the conversations evaporates at that point. Good small talk techniques allow YOU to guide the conversation and get information from other people. A good open-ended question gives the recipient permission to share as much or as little as they want about themselves. Then, you seize onto any part of the information they have given you to expand the conversation. If you discover that you don’t have anything in common with the person, there are polite ways to end the conversation and move onto the next person. The book I mentioned above contains many small talk techniques.

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    • I agree on your take of small talk.

      I’m struggling right now with this issue at work where small talk is the norm and I’m the introvert. It’s not that I hate talking to people for the sake of talking, I just don’t know what to say when there is no purpose to the conversation other than to shoot the bull. When the conversation is related to work, or I’m helping someone with some issue, I have no problem opening up and talking. But my mind goes blank when someone wants to talk to fill up air. I immediately clam up. It’s so frustrating!

      At least to my way of thinking, I feel like I have established a reputation at my job for being the quiet boring guy. How do I get rid of this perception?

      I want to improve my small talk skills for the sake of connecting with people and establishing relationships on a professional level. But at the same time I want to engage in meaningful conversations with people because that ‘s when I feel most comfortable socially.

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    • Perfectly said. I don’t like meaningless talk. What’s the point? You’ve just wasted X minutes for no reason. I don’t mind something that isn’t extremely in depth, but let it be interesting at least. Give me a reason to want to listen to what you have to say, please don’t bore me and I’ll try not to do the same. 🙂

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    • Allen, I just posted a similar comment below (about two years late!) but. as a moderate extrovert, I wish someone would tell me the definition: What is “small talk” and what are “deeper” conversations? Personally, I like to talk a lot, about almost anything. Just in the last weekend, I talked with friends about adoption and the difficulties children from orphanages have adjusting to life in America, national politics, my parents’ upcoming overseas trip, my friend’s new baby, why I like G&T’s and many other things…

      Can an introvert explain to me what “small talk” means to them? Thanks!!

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      • Small talk is a pointless conversation. If it doesn’t accomplish anything I feel like my time was wasted. And really I don’t mind the small talk if the person is interesting. It’s when they keep droning on about their grandkids I’ll never meet, their cat, their crack head daughter in law. It’s the droning on and on about a subject that could have taken 15 seconds to talk about but has been turned into a 30 min talk-a-thon. I really don’t need personal details of coworkers and acquaintance’s lives. I honestly could care less. All I can think is I could be putting this time to good use. You’d think they get the clue that I checked out of the conversation by my not looking at them and saying uh huh, uh huh over and over again. I feel that small talk drains me. It sometimes annoys me to the point I feel stress and start getting annoyed. I try to stop the conversation or walk away before that happens but I also don’t want to be rude.

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  16. It seems like the so-called introverts here have a greater capacity to embrace a bigger world and a deeper, more meaningful sharing of experience with other people.

    It makes sense when you find out that neuroscientists have found that our minds – which, biologically, are neuro networks – have proven to be, decidedly “same-loving”. And are actually quite hostile toward the “not same.” Seems like small talk is just a way for people to confirm their sameness – something like, “Hello, I’m the same as you.” “Are you the same as me”? “Yes, I’m the same as you.” “oh, good, I’m glad we’re both the same.” “Yes, I’m glad we’re the same to.” And if you do something other than small talk, you get “You’re not the same as us. You should be the same”.

    It seems that people who don’t like small talk have that extra dimension to their neuro network that allows them to seek and in fact enjoy “not sameness”. Funny they should be deemed the introverts. Seems like the extroverts can look outside themselves as long as what they find out there is another one just like them.

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    • Introverts are also same minded but deeper in their conversations on sameness.

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  17. I’m an introvert as well as a highly sensitive person. I’m the one who’ll start a deep conversation not thinking about my audience and/or my topic and then feel like a total loser afterwards cause nobody could actually keep the conversation going. I don’t start these topics with people I’ve just met, they’re actually people I know like co-workers etc. I guess that’s what I really find annoying, that people I’ve “known” for 8 years still have to make small talk with me. Ahhhh. Like others have said, by the time the small talk is over, I’m pretty much done with socializing. I’ve worked with these people that long and I don’t really know them personally, but whose fault is that? It really cheeses me when they can’t understand why I no longer join them for potlucks and Christmas parties. Why? You’re not my friends. I have no effing clue who you really are deep down. I have no problem listening to people’s life stories and/or problems, but it feels like if I share those things, I’m over sharing and half the time they’re talking behind my back anyway. All I can say is people can take their fake small talk, eff off and quit faking being my friend, it’s a waste of my time and energy.

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    • 100% agree with this comment, and the post itself.

      My stumble upon story- I googled ‘why does small talk annoy me’.

      Nice to know there are others who feel the same.

      It started to trouble me as usually it makes me feel uneasy, as when it’s someone you like, you know deep down they’re just trying to communicate. But it’s just a frustrating way of doing it, for me.

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    • Hi! Do you read Elaine Aron book isn’t it? Is amazing!

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  18. I think introverts are just selfish in their own world with nothing to offer anyone anyway and have a emotional disconnect from the world so are sentenced to life on the internet, They can’t create a emotional connection with anyone and so don’t even try, And do hate and are annoyed by other people and find everything so boring because of been a self centred traits… I could go on

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    • That would be a recluse and not an introvert.

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    • So Wrong. I have plenty to offer, just no one here is interested in it. It can’t be complete BS when others are making money offering my interests publicly. You are presumptuous and mean. No one is sentenced to anything. There was no internet 60 years ago, so what do you think we did then? I find the world quite interesting, not boring. Home is boring, which is why I’m never there. I bet YOU find the world boring.

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  19. I’m also one of the people who are more on meaningful conversation. Honestly, small talk is very annoying and it drains down my energy. Proudly Introverted 🙂

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  20. I am so grateful that I came across your website/comments… I am not an introvert but my 13 year old son is. I have sadly misunderstood and misinterpreted his “aloofness” I couldn’t understand why he was so different from me and out of utter frustration I did a google search to learn how to deal with his seemingly disinterest in small talk, life, people, etc. After reading a lot of your articles and comments I have learned that my son is an introvert. Oh hallelujah!!! I feel horrible at wanting to project my views on him… at wanting to change him to be more “normal” Oh, I feel so much shame for being so ignorant. Tonight was my AHA moment!!! I only want the absolute best for my son and I want to be able to always connect with him. My heart is totally broken because I was so blind and misinformed about our differences. I feel for the first time that I understand who he is and how he feels. I want to learn how to support him throughout these tender years and throughout his life and to be the best parent possible. I sincerely Thank You for this website. xox

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  21. Man oh man, I loved this article!!! I despise small talk with a passion and I did not realize how common it actually is to dislike small talk. My family knows I won’t go out of my way to strike up some empty “conversation” just to fill the silence. It is stupid, in my opinion. I am not bad at it, I just don’t feel the need for it. Never have, never will. My husband thinks it’s a little strange that I am perfectly content being by myself instead of jumping at the chance to mingle with other people that I don’t even know. I’m not stuck up or anything like that, I just don’t understand why it is so important for some people to make empty small talk just so they can seem interesting to others. I don’t care if people like me and I am not trying to force them to like me, either. There have been a few times when I have made small talk with people just to humor my husband. It’s not for me. My ideal situation would be like a scene out of Dumb and Dumber where Jim Carey says to a couple of guys standing outside a gas station “oh, Big Gulps’, huh? Welp……..see ya later!” and then just walking off not worrying about the awkward silence or worrying about sticking around. I guess I’m more of an introverted observer. I do agree with another comment, though, about how some people who make small talk are usually just people who like to brag about meaningless crap and small talk is their way of accomplishing that. Hey, I’m not a bitch, I just don’t care.

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    • yes yes yes 🙂

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  22. I am glad I found this article. I am a natural introvert and it has become a problem where i work.
    I am required not only to provide quality top notch information technology support desktop support but management at my company are now asking to engage in more small talk with the people I support. My shortcoming is that I hate small talk, out of sheer boredom and awkwardness of it all. I naturally have a distaste for anything that seems trivial or fake.
    Yet in society we are forced to smile nod and engage in this meaning less banter!

    I am trying to learn of effective ways to engage in small talk and cringe under the surface of my smile while engaging in it

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  23. I am so glad I found this article. Now I understand much better why some conversations are so annoying. I really hate small talks, unless it’s just greeting (hello or goodbye). I love to talk , but small talks lead nowhere for me. It takes too much effort to fake smile , they are boring and meaningles. I don’t care where someone ordered shoes or what kind of fruit my friend eats today. It means nothing to me , and I don’t care. I would rather have short conservation that makes at least some deeper sence. Small talks are all about pretending , attention seeking in annoying way. They mean nothing to me, except making me nervous. Glad there are more people who share my opinions here.

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  24. At last. It’s not just me!

    I hate smalltalk with such a passion that I’ll shut a conversation down almost immediately if it goes beyond ‘how are you?’ without some sort of point. If that’s being anti-social then so be it but when people who don’t communicate with me normally ask me how my holiday was or whatever, it’s a red rag to a bull.

    I’ll happily talk for days if the conversation is interesting or has a point but smalltalk? Urgh.

    It’s funny how people who have the most to offer in conversation are made to feel like outsiders because they’re not interested in which distant relative’s kid has a cold..

    Great site. I shall be lurking regularly.

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  25. Couldn’t agree with this article more. Every time when I’m forced to have a small talk, at the same time my brain would keep telling me “What’s the point for god’s sake!!!!” And the only thing I can do to calm myself down is to wear a big smile on my face…

    Okie. It might sound pathetic, but this is what I become after having pretended to be an extrovert for more than 20 years… very mentally unhealthy and twisted…

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this:)

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    • They are no longer available.

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  26. I wouldn’t say I hate small talk, I’d say that it is more that I dislike it when the conversation does not move beyond small talk and stays shallow. Another issue is that with guys small talk is often about spectator sports, a topic for which I have zero interest. I used to say I was bad at small talk, and many other introverts I’ve discussed the issue with have said they were as well, but in thinking over the topic for this post I realized that the issue for me is more opening conversations with strangers rather than the small talk itself. I have no problem if the other person approaches me.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that in many conversations I’ve had, the people who are the very outgoing “life of the party” types tend to shy away from any deep conversation. This can be about any subject; politics, religion, philosophy, history, psychology, etc. or even personal topics, anything that requires taking a position or making a commitment, or even just thinking about the topic. Some get quiet, many try to steer the conversation back to small talk, and a few will leave or even get hostile. Other introverts I know have similar experiences. What I found interesting with this is that even the very outgoing people can get shy if the discussion goes from shallow to deep while the introverts become more outgoing at the same time.

    This might not be true for everyone. I’m an INTJ and most introverts I’ve discussed these topics with online or in real life are INTJs or other ITs.

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  27. I’m an introvert myself. It kind of reminds me of big group circles of 20+ people after high school. I don’t think all extroverts are incapable of having deep conversions but it has a lot more to do with the group dynamic. It’s very hard in general to have a big group of people talk about one subject in-depth regardless of your social preference. People start to talk over each other, everyone would have to take turns, people argue, music etc etc. I would think it would be harder for extroverts to get enough energy with out a social break down of the group happening. When extroverts are in smaller groups along with some introverts it seems like everybody kind of gets what they want at least at some point. I don’t like much small talk myself, as long as everyone gets to have a voice and an ear. Then and only then I don’t feel completely wedged in the corner contemplating my existence. I have noticed in big group settings house parties mainly that the introverts tend to stick together and so do the extroverts but once and awhile both groups split away to join other groups. They share the social space (not just section off with police tape for the night). So in conclusion I think both groups need to recognize this otherwise the only way for both groups to get what they want is to find people who are in the same social category. At least that’s my opinion.

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  28. i am an introvert, i am currently writing an article on how to make a good conversation with an introvert for the first time. Studying introverts like myself and some friends, i do realize we want our interest to be bought, our interests are up for sale at a high price, infact our interests are auctioned to the most fascinating person of the day. We want to see something fascinating, something interesting or just something different, we do not want just ordinary stuff. Small talk can be a task on introverts because firstly we count our time as priceless, we would rather have our time to ourselves so the fact that instead of being alone at that moment, we are with a complete stranger who might add no value to us, who might be annoying and intruding, who might just not offer anything sensible to us, we feel burdened. we find “small talk” to be bothersome, eventually annoying, and completely irrelevant. personally i hate small talks and i have not patience to manage the situation when it starts to piss me off, i have on very often occasions ended “small talk” that start to get on my nerves, i just go..”please let me be”,…”i don’t fancy this conversation”,…”i am tired of moving my lips”,…”my tongue aches please”, or i just stop speaking without notice.
    But we cant deny that we have engaged in a few small talks that where actually comfortable and interesting, infact we’ve longed to meet those people again. For introverts personal questions should be avoided, a general topic with which you both have opinions about is best to start a conversation. i would be sharing some tips on the interests of an introvert and how to captivate our minds. please i would be grateful if you drop your comments telling us about those rare “small talk” encounters that you enjoyed, and why you think you enjoyed them. thanks for this article.

    Reply
  29. Thanks for this information. i am an introvert, i am currently writing an article on how to make a good conversation with an introvert for the first time. Studying introverts like myself and some friends, i do realize we want our interest to be bought, our interests are up for sale at a high price, infact our interests are auctioned to the most fascinating person of the day. We want to see something fascinating, something interesting or just something different, we do not want just ordinary stuff. Small talk can be a task on introverts because firstly we count our time as priceless, we would rather have our time to ourselves so the fact that instead of being alone at that moment, we are with a complete stranger who might add no value to us, who might be annoying and intruding, who might just not offer anything sensible to us, we feel burdened. we find “small talk” to be bothersome, eventually annoying, and completely irrelevant. personally i hate small talks and i have not patience to manage the situation when it starts to piss me off, i have on very often occasions ended “small talk” that start to get on my nerves, i just go..”please let me be”,…”i don’t fancy this conversation”,…”i am tired of moving my lips”,…”my tongue aches please”, or i just stop speaking without notice.
    But we cant deny that we have engaged in a few small talks that where actually comfortable and interesting, infact we’ve longed to meet those people again. For introverts personal questions should be avoided, a general topic with which you both have opinions about is best to start a conversation. i would be sharing some tips on the interests of an introvert and how to captivate our minds. please i would be grateful if you drop your comments telling us about those rare “small talk” encounters that you enjoyed, and why you think you enjoyed them.

    Reply
  30. I disagree I really don’t like to talk to people that’s all.

    Reply
  31. Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.
    —————————————————————————————————————-
    Small talk is meant to be light and fun. It flees from depth and meaning. Personal questions are considered inappropriate. Likewise, any emotion besides happy or neutral is discouraged. Consequently, authenticity dies on the vine.

    The truth is that small talk allows two people to have an entire conversation without really getting to know each other.

    Instead of being light and fun, the conversation is flat and boring. It is like a game of chess where both players always know each other’s next move. It is a predictable exchange with predictable results.
    —————————————————————————————————–
    We wait for that brave soul who asks inappropriate questions and laughs at all the wrong times. We cling to the hope that our path will collide with someone who is unapologetically authentic. We are ever in search of people who crave depth over breadth.

    Reply
  32. I hate it. I get bored making small talk and it seems rude if I don’t respond or pay attention to the person talking. It makes me feel awkward.

    Reply
  33. This is me! I can only take so much banter as I struggle with superficial/on the surface talk. I push to have banter as I refuse for it to hinder my development/success in and out of the workplace.

    Even as a teen, I yearned for deep relationships but instead found friends who fluttered from person to person as the wind blew.

    Reply
  34. I am equally an introvert and extrovert. I crave alone time. It helps me recover from social time. I have always longed for deep conversation that goes beyond the small talk and I do not have a problem moving conversations to deeper levels. However, I have always wondered why families don’t engage in more talk that goes past a superficial level? Parents often shove difficult family content under the rug instead of having open discussions. People are Not brave enough to take conversational risks.

    Reply
  35. “We wait for that brave soul who asks inappropriate questions and laughs at all the wrong times.” This is totally spot on for me. Great post.

    Reply
  36. This article is amazing and completely sums up why I dislike small talk.

    Small talk is effortless banter where the people involved never get to know each other on a meaningful level.

    I used to attend potlucks, parties, and other social gatherings that my co-workers hosted. I never enjoyed these because the conversations wouldn’t move beyond small talk. Anytime a person brought up a topic that required more than a stock “Yes my day was great” answer, someone would quickly change the subject. The only non-small talk conversations that are successful are ones about work, and complaining about work for three hours is emotionally draining. I stopped attending these shindigs and feel better about myself now that I’m not forced to engage in pointless small talk.

    Like the article says, I don’t hate people, and I do want to interact with others on a deeper level. Small talk does not allow me to do this. Since I have a wide variety of interests, I can have meaningful one-on-one conversations with pretty much anyone, but the other person has to willingly make herself vulnerable. I think this is the true reason why American culture would rather engage in small talk than deep conversations – people don’t want to be vulnerable; they don’t want others to know their true personality.

    My friend from Japan was confused by American social customs when she first moved here. She said it was common for Americans to end conversations with “we should hang out more!” and “call me if you need help!” but when she followed up with them, they’d ignore her or make up an excuse why they couldn’t help her. She was extremely hurt by this. I explained to her that when most Americans say these things, they’re being “polite” and don’t genuinely want you to call them. That’s why if I say I want to hang out with someone, I actually mean it. It’s rude to offer assistance or say you want to hang out when you don’t actually want to.

    Reply
    • D: Can I ask, what is the difference between “small talk” and “deep talk”? As a somewhat extroverted personality, I like ALL talk, for the most part. I like talking about political theory, if it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, and what someone thought of the latest movie.

      I keep reading posts (here and elsewhere) where introverted people say they hate “small talk” because it’s boring, but like “in-depth” or “substantive” talk.

      What’s the difference? In my experience, it seems like my more introverted friends like to talk at length about ONE topic (often something they’ve researched or know a lot about), more than talking a bit about several topics. Is small talk just less in-depth?

      Reply
  37. Hi Michaela, I love you :’

    Reply
  38. this is so true

    Reply
  39. I hate small talk because it allows me to feel better than the other person. I can also pity their pathetic attempts at getting to know me, by calling them “shallow” or “limited”. It feels great to know that I am not a pathetic loser who can’t make a connection with other people, it is their fault entirely.

    I love hiding behind my facade of aloofness while silently screaming how lonely I am. I love this article because it totally validates my anti-social personality, even though it has nothing to do with being an introvert. I am a totally deep and insightful person, but I can’t stand all the posers who I have to endure. Maybe one day I’ll find someone as great as myself…

    Reply
    • Not every introvert is a dick or pathetic loser who can’t make a connection with other people, way to go on being the other end of the idiot stick of this argument. Kudos.

      As an introvert, I simply just prefer being on my own more than spending my energy being with people 24/7. I see nothing wrong with this, much like there’s nothing wrong with enjoying people’s company more.

      Reply
    • I apologize for the introvert that has made you feel like a donkey. I’m sure that person didn’t mean to make you feel like your contribution to a conversation was meaningless and lacking of substance. He’d be wise to read your comment and reconsider his approach to small talk before an internal demon is created.

      Reply
  40. ““Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”

    I don’t think this clears anything up. I think it displays a complete lack of understanding. What I would say instead is that introverts and non-introverts can see small talk differently.

    Non-introverts can see small talk as a non-intrusive way to more personal discussion. For example, you can start by talking about the how nice the weather was last weekend, which can lead to a discussion of what you each did last weekend. Which could lead to a discussion about what interests you, what’s important to you, and what you value. Which could leads to all sorts of further discussion. But if that’s not comfortable, you don’t have to go there.

    To dismiss this as a barrier between people, shallow, without meaning etc simply dismissed the fact that it can function as a route to a deeper conversation without throwing someone into the deep end when they might not want to go there. Perhaps if small talk is treated as shallow, then it’s precisely because it’s treated as shallow that it never gets any deeper?

    I feel very frustrated at the possibility that different communication styles aren’t seen as different communication styles. A thoughtful understanding of a different communication style might help you to meet it halfway, or even use it to get to the point you want to get to. Dismissing it as shallow, a barrier, etc is over-simplistic and achieves nothing constructive.

    Reply
  41. Seems to me, people are better at giving out advice than they are about having a two-way conversation. If I try to go a little deeper than small talk it’s, well you should do this or try that. Like I could never have thought of anything by myself. If I try to engage that person with simple questions like, what do think…or how do you feel…, they clam up like I’m prying into their personal life. People use small talk because they are either paranoid, or too lazy to make and maintain relationships, the just idea is too much trouble because they’d have to set themselves aside, yet they go around whining how lonely they are. This is why small talk is so prevalent and will always be so.

    Reply
  42. My problem here is that i’ve been more than 6 years surrounded by people who don’t like any other kind of talk that isn’t small talk. I talk with my friends on college, my friends at volleyball, and it’s only meaningless chit-chat. It’s been so long since i’ve got in a deep talk about anything with people around my age, and it scares me a bit. I can only get into nice conversations with my dad and my brother (whom are a lot older than i).
    I can’t discuss hundreds of topics because most of my friends hate and/or are afraid to dissagree on anything. I think most of them only want to ignore their problems by not talking about anything sad, or anything that doesn’t have a right answer but that mentality is just straigh up from Ray Bradbury’s Faherenheit… (i hope what i wrote makes sense since im not native in english and my point can come across a bit weirdly phrased)

    Reply
  43. A guy asks me yesterday, “you here to watch the Kings game?”
    I responded with “yeah” but in my mind I’m thinking what gave it away? The fact that I’m in a sports bar? Perhaps my hat that says Kings on it? Maybe it was me looking up at the tv that had the pre game show on?
    It’s definitely not that I don’t like people. I just don’t do well with small talk. My issue is that I feel guilty for not taking part in it. They made an effort and I gave them nothing in return. That feeling is what I dislike.

    Reply
  44. I personally find that small talk does, in fact, serve a purpose. I love talking about the deeper meaning about existence, the fragility of reality, the subconscious reasons behind the existence of religion, sexual orientations and gender theory, the perks of Marxism, how two moons would potentially influence gravity and the Earth’s core, etc., etc.

    But sometimes I’m not interested in being open, real, or vulnerable with my conversation partner. They’re not someone I would want to have that kind of conversation with, I recognize that it could be a interpersonal “bad move”, or I just don’t want to be truthful about what I feel or think with that person. Some people are not worth being real with.

    So small talk exists. It lets me what you’re going to be doing next week, how your kids are faring in school, how you feel about work, what you read in the news lately. Maybe it’s not “deep” enough for you, but it fulfills something for me: I can know who you are on a different (and sometimes even more substantial) level than whether or not you think Freud influenced Jung’s theory of the subconscious. And just because I talk small talk with you doesn’t mean you’re any less worthwhile or interesting — it means I care about your life and what’s going on it, just as much as I value our mutual ability to discuss topics of interest with each other.

    Reply
    • Well said!!!!!

      Reply
  45. Do you prefer meaningful conversation over small talk?
    BigTalk is the card game for you. It’s time to end small talk, make real connection and have fun. Check it out! → https://igg.me/at/bigtalkcard/

    Reply
  46. It’s been well established in Psychology that small talk prevents any meaningful or intimate connection between people. Yes small talk is necessary to move on to deeper more valuable things to discuss but when the only conversation type is small talk, there will never be any real connection. That is why it annoys me, small talk is meaningless no matter how it’s justified. It’s only necessary to make initial contact with new people, at work or first dating someone. Not being able to move past the small talk is a problem because well, small talk is empty no matter how you frame it.

    Reply
    • Can you point toward any studies? I’ve never heard that before and would love to learn more. Most of what I’ve read (not psychological studies) says the opposite, so it would be great to be able to hold up something concrete to show that small talk isn’t always as awesome as some people say.

      Reply
  47. Great article. From my viewpoint, I also hate/dislike/loathe/am annoyed by/avoid small talk as well. When that smiling salesperson catches my eye and starts walking towards me I feel physically sick to my stomach for the world’s most worthless conversation that is about to ensue. But for me, it’s not because I want to have a deeper conversation with that salesperson (and it’s not just because they are in sales mind you, that was just an example) – I just don’t have the energy to maintain a face that shows even partially that I give a sh*t, not to mention the need to have to answer the questions on how I am doing today without sounding like a jerk. See, here’s my problem – I don’t want to talk to anyone, but at the same time, I want them to have a favorable opinion of me. Strange huh? Because if I didn’t care what they thought of me, I’d just ignore them – instead, I entertain them with witty banter, a laugh here and there, and sometimes, I even ask them questions in return. I hate the entire exchange and I just want them to go away immediately, but think, “Wow that Steve was a great guy, I am glad I got to talk to him today!”.

    So not sure where on the introvert scale this all puts me, maybe in a psychiatrist’s office instead 😉

    Reply
  48. I have never understood what is wrong with silence. When I lived with my parents (ages ago) I remember a guy who asked me literally every time I went with him on the lift what I was studying. My friend, if you do not care and you are not going to remember ever please shut up. Big hater of small talk here. Jesus Steve W just said something that I just wrote about in my blog

    http://theworlddoesnotmakeanysense.blogspot.ie/2016/07/why-do-introverts-feel-bad-sometimes.html

    Reply
  49. I’m just about to split from my wife because I simly cannot bear irrelevant (in my view) conversation. We are bth in our 60’s and married only recently. I can’t pretend to be interested in things she did with previous husbands 20 or more years ago. I simply can’t work up any interest in things her now adult kids did when they were young. My wife says I’m wrong because her past makes her what she is now, I say it makes absolutely no difference to me what path she took t where she is now. One example, the other night I asked her how far two places she had lived in were apart. I got 10 minutes of anecdotes about things that had happened when she had lived there. I’m happy to talk when the conversation means something to me, I love debating the deeper things in life, I’ll even talk about how a particular film or news report makes us feel, but I simply can’t do the small stuff.

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  50. I feel so bad for you Graham, don’t let my my laughter fool you. I’m laughing with you, not at you! I had a similar experience with my old landlady. Note to self: Do not live on the same property as landlady!

    Everyday she’d trap me with never-ending stories about the brunch she made for her friend 3 years ago when they had come back from an early morning hike with her two dogs that she rescued and then someone tried to steal them but her ex-best friend who lives across the road helped her find them and now I have to try this green smoothie she just made…
    It would go on and on and on and I had to sand there with a fake smile and generalized nodding because we lived on the same property so I couldn’t be myself and ignore her. It came to a point where I would come home late after work in the hopes she was sleeping. But no, as I’d be opening my door at 11pm she’d pop out of the shadows, startling me, and asking me if I just got back. No, I’m just standing here opening the door because this is a dream and your asleep!
    Most times she’d open her door and tell me to come in for a minute. I swear, 3 hrs would go by and she’d be non-stop. Inside I’m thinking to myself “Are you that into yourself you actually think someone really wants to know what you had for breakfast today in detail? Or do you think I have nothing going on in my life that you’re doing me a favour by talking to me?”
    Don’t get me started on people at work or college. But I must say, for all my hate for small talk and gossip, I love how I can manipulate situations for my amusement because of it. I feed off of awkward moments so I will purposely lead a conversation subversively to a place that creates some sort of break. For example I’ll throw in an innuendo or double entendre without changing my tone of voice or demeanour. People who get it will start laughing and the other dumbos won’t understand what’s going on. That’s how you know whose one of us.
    I remember a work colleague and I were talking about sex but we were using the terms “x-box” and “playstation” and “joystick” and such and our manager joined in the conversation except he had no idea. The exercise there was for my colleague and I to stop ourselves from laughing when he told us he plays with his girlfriend’s Xbox all the time.
    So, my point is, instead of fighting against small talk, use it against them and they’ll either get the message, or they’ll continue to provide a steady stream of entertainment for you.

    Reply
  51. I laughed at the part about waiting for the person who makes inappropriate comments or laughs at the wrong time. By and large, I really enjoy those people 😛

    Small talk is good for just getting to know the basics about the other person. But if that’s where the conversation stays, it gets boring very quickly. I guess making small talk isn’t a pet peeve of mine – I feel like, how can it be, when it’s the safest and easiest bit of a conversation? What gets me is when people clam up *after* that. That’s so awkward.

    Reply
  52. When a group of people all get to know each other through work or some other way and when in conversation they like to put each other down, make comments like “ooh getting a bit fat”, “haha look at your big nose” and if that person is offended then the group ways in with, “oooh come on its just a bit of banter, cheer up”. Personally I don’t get offended by banter I just find it boring and people don’t really get to know each other, to me they just show me that they are all insecure and need to poke fun at someone else

    Reply
  53. I don’t have time for small talk. I either have deep meaningful, sincere conversations, or I don’t speak at all. Besides, I find most people fake, cold, no depth to them at all, lack of thought and processing ability, self centered and no empathy towards others at all. I have an uncanny ability to read others and 9 times out of 10 I’m dead-on about their ulterior motives. Chit-chat is a waste of time. We’re on this planet for only a short amount of time. Make the most of it while you’re here, and don’t waste a moment of it on small talk.

    Reply
    • When I was a practicing introvert I had the same bad attitude toward popular kids. I saw them as mean and shallow and stupid, and it may be the reason they didn’t like me. In short, they read all my tells. After I took responsibility for my attitude, I was able to learn the coping skills that helped me come out of my shell. Now, even though my happy place is still in a recliner, alone with a thick book, it no longer sucks the life out of me to be in a room full of people. My wife has often said, “You can talk to anyone.” I can work a room with the best of them. And that is energizing! The small talk is just the price you pay to go deeper. And people are free to stay shallow if they want to . I don’t judge them. It shows up on my face, and then people think I’m a jerk. So, be humble, patient, and willing to wait for the good ones to open up.

      Reply
  54. One of my biggest pet-peeves is when someone approaches me, asks me how I’m doing, and without even a pause gets down to what they really want of me. They didn’t wait for my response to answer them how I am. When I ask how someone is when I approach them, I truly am asking how they are. I wait for their response. I’m going no further in the conversation until my question is answered by them. They have my undivided attention. I am sincere when I ask them. They are not when they ask me. Its extremely irritating to me. Like I’ve said before, I make every minute count. I’m asking how you are, so tell me and I will listen to you…..fully.

    Reply
  55. At first when I read this post, I thought it was BS. But then I thought about it more and I think it may be correct. I get very stressed when I have to continually make small talk. I quit a good job once because it was so stressful to talk to one person after another all day and continually have to ask “How are you?” Frankly, I didn’t really care how they were, I just wanted them to tell me what they wanted so that I could take care of the problem and move on. I only really want to talk to someone if I am interested in developing some kind of long-term relationship with them, and that rarely happens. I agree with a previous poster that if I ask how you are doing, I really mean it.

    I am currently a nurse and I know this will probably sound awful to some, but it is really difficult and stressful to have to make small talk with patients. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with their condition, I just don’t want to talk to them. Instead of greeting me, I wish they would simply say “I need …whatever,” I would give it to them and leave. Some people would suggest that I get a different job, and I am nearing completion of an accounting degree. Maybe I can just have clients email me what they need and I will never have to speak to them.

    I’ve been this way my entire life. I prefer to observe other people, not talk to them.

    Reply
    • Ginger – I agree with your last sentence myself too.

      Reply
  56. I don’t hate small talk as long as it doesn’t interrupt my precious time. I seem to need to live in stealth mode to avoid the constant distracting people that seek me out to chit chat. Please don’t do this. Don’t monopolize my time like that. I don’t have all day. This is why I prefer communicating with people that post messages for me that give me time to respond without needing to banter back and forth with unnecessary blabber. Good friends understand my quirks, and let me be. I do the same for them. But, my quirk makes meeting new people kind of a chore. Once I realize an individual is a blabbermouth, I want nothing more than to escape their chatter. I don’t mind typical formality kind of small talk. Such formalities are cultural ice breakers, that’s all.

    Great page!!!! I really don’t know if I am an introvert or not. I like crazy crowds and high energy. I like meeting new people, but chit chat is annoying. Realizing this, I, myself like to respect people’s time. I wish the rest of the world would learn to be polite like that. No, I don’t want to hear your life story. Please shush! If you want me to read your life story, post it online. My ears need a break, before I smack them (not polite, lol, ha ha).

    Reply
  57. As someone who is introverted, I only get comfortable with making online conversations with people that I’ve known for a long time, but yeah, I really hate being forced to have small talks when I don’t really want to.

    Reply
  58. I just found your website yesterday, in my quest for information on extraversion (my particular cup of tea) and found your site on introversion instead! Very interesting… I’ve heard this issue about small talk before and I think it’s fascinating how much most introverts hate it. As an extravert, this is my take on it:

    Small talk allows me to have little brief “moments” with people throughout the day, when neither of us have TIME to engage in a long, deep conversation about a more important topic. If you ask me which I prefer, I think I prefer them BOTH: I like hearing a bit about how five different friends’ days are going, because I certainly don’t have time to talk to each of them for an hour or two a day (and work and sleep!). In an ideal world, I would love to have 10 hour conversations about really deep issues with like 100 people. But I can’t (maybe I should have become a psychologist?).

    So, through small talk, I allow myself to have tiny interactions with many people, just to keep the flame alive, and then I really treasure the 2-3 hour conversations I get to have with those same people, but more sporadically.

    Who has time to talk to 20 people a week for 2-3 hours a person?

    Reply
  59. Just one more thing to add: I think there’s a difference in a way between “small talk” with total strangers whom you will never see again (or who want something from you): like a furniture salesman at Macy’s, and “small talk” with friends or acquaintances that you simply don’t have time for “big talk” with that day. To me, small talk (quick, surface conversations) with people I care about, but for whom I can’t spare a long chat, multiple times a week, is critical to keeping our relationship going.

    Reply
  60. I am glad that I am not the only one who is really uncomfortable in public (including my job as well). But, it seems that I am around most people who are extroverted or love to speak their minds.

    I do hate small talk. It is very awkward. I am around complete stranger(s) or someone (e.g. extended family member) I do not know that well. It is either I want to talk about something that interests or concerns me. Or I just want to go my separate way and regain energy because I am a true introvert.

    Reply

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