Why Introverts Hate Small Talk
I don’t like small talk. No. I hate it. The surprise factor of this statement should hover somewhere near zero for anyone who has read this blog, or who knows me personally. I am an introvert, and in general, we don’t do the small talk thing.
But why? Even extroverts who have read about introverts know that we don’t do small talk, but can’t see what the big deal is. Small talk is such a part of our society, yet half of that very society cannot stand it. I cannot speak for 100% of Introvertkind, but I will lay out some of the reasons I hate it which I think are common to many introverts.
-To begin with, it is exactly the same every time. Anywhere. If you are engaging me in small talk, it means you are treating me in the precise same manner when you approach me as you did the last stranger you approached. And depending on the venue, I may have just seen you approach the person right before me and heard you ask the same asinine questions of them. Just as I will hear you ask them to the person by the punch bowl once you have decided our conversation is over.
-It’s not a conversation. It’s a metric. You are using it to determine the nature of a new person. How they react, how they speak, what they feel like when engaged. It is a horrible way of getting to know me because I hate being tested, and I will usually act accordingly. I don’t have to be rude, but the cues will be there that the nature of the conversation makes me uncomfortable because I know I will be judged by how well I perform at the task.
-Small talk is expected. Want to make sure I, and many other introverts don’t do something? Insist that it is what we are expected to do by everyone else.
-It is irrelevant. If an introvert has decided to leave home and bring himself to a place full of people he doesn’t know, chances are there was a very good reason for it. The reason for the gathering or the meeting. It probably was not easy for him to come, and isn’t a walk in the park to stay. He’d like to get on with the specific reason he attended this function. (Or worse, the reason he was summoned, if you have some kind of authority over him.) Unless the meeting was called to discuss the crab dip and the heat wave, I am not going to be receptive to such talk, despite outward attempts to be polite.
-Small talk is inauthentic. Look, I sympathize with those who use small talk to a degree. I really do. For an extrovert it is a valuable tool to ease into a conversation, and possibly a friendship with a new person. But if they are honest, extroverts will admit that it is just a tool. That even they are not the least bit interested in how difficult it was for me to drive to this building, or if I ran into any traffic on the way. They know that they don’t really care, and I certainly know they don’t care. It is a rouse to start talking to someone new. But I would rather be approached cold with an authentic question, then be warmed up by the small talk.
-It’s a waste of resources. Mindless small talk requires little brain power. Introverts spend most of their time thinking. Processing ideas. Finding themselves engaged in small talk slams on the brakes of their active brain. The subjects are so empty, there is no need to form an opinion and/or argument that they can then share with those around them. Like renting the biggest self-storage unit in the city and storing nothing in it but a roll of paper towels. It is space and money wasted. Small talk is like that roll sitting in the vast expanse of the mind to an introvert. It’s a waste of resources.
-It lacks creativity. Many introverts are creative types, and few things are as bereft of creativity as small talk.
All of this may sound like I am denigrating those who are both good at and enjoy small talk. That is not my intention. My main purpose today is to shine more light on why I and other introverts like myself despise small talk. Because the more I am honest about the reasons, instead of just repeating how much I hate it, the more likely it is someone out there will take an extra moment and consider a new way to approach known introverts. And if that happens, more people win.
Do you do small talk?