via Daily Prompt
Credits for featured image: Jacopo Werther
I have never been good at small talks unless the person I am talking to starts a conversation about a subject that I love or I am knowledgeable about. I have not always been as good with people as I am now.
I used to be shy and awkward as a kid. I transformed into an extroverted and social person until the age of 11, after which I went back in my cocoon and then I emerged back into a more outgoing personality at about 15. I visited my comfortable shell again when I joined university and now I think I am shaping up into a person who has become good at talking and interacting with people while setting some time apart for some “me time”.
I think I have brought up the issue of social media a few times in my posts and I think that social media has crippled us and has made us antisocial. I have always been bad at making friends. In fact, my mother was worried about me when I went to high school; She was scared that I would become a loner and that I would not be able to have any friend. Luckily, there existed people who knew how to be social and how to make friends, and they somehow ended up liking me and becoming friends with me.
Now that I am at university, I have realized that I prefer to have a small group of close friends rather than a large circle of friends. I can remember clearly how I became friends with the people I know. It is simple. One person talked to me in class, then we always met in class and we got talking. Someone else came up to me and started talking to me after another class and we realized that we had a mutual friend in common. Then my friends invited me to the club they are in and now these friends’ friends and the club members are my friends.
I am friends with my friends’ friends and it’s only because I am bad at small talk. I mean, what do you talk about so that there is no awkward silence? Do you talk about the weather? The cold winter which is coming? Christmas? The holidays?
Well, I have tried a few of those questions and they have worked a few times because when you ask people such basic questions, they will give you a generic answer, but sometimes, you can follow-up with other questions.
For instance, one scenario could be that you ask someone about their plans for the holidays and they will probably say that they will be travelling back home or that they are planning to go abroad or to visit some countries. They will then ask you the same question, and then you answer. I actually had one such conversation today, and I said that I will be studying during the holidays but I will be going to a Christmas party which is actually a fund-raiser for rescue animals. Then the other person told me that she has 2 cats that she rescued and she started telling me all about her 3 cats in Suzhou and her other cats and tortoise in Chongqing, her hometown. It’s amazing how from one snippet of a conversation with someone, you could get a glimpse into their life.
Small talk does not only require the courage to ask questions but also the art of listening. We often hear people talk but we seldom listen to what they say. It actually benefits introverts like me. Today, I met another acquaintance and I didn’t know what to say to her. I remembered that she had to do the layout of a room in the library and she was looking for some chairs and tables. So, I asked her what happened to the layout, whether it was approved or not. Then she said that she has sent an approval but the management had not yet sent an answer. Then she asked me my opinion about what improvements I would want to see in the library. That entailed a lengthy conversation with me suggesting ideas about the layout, activities in the library and so on.
Then she started telling me how she wants to improve her oral English and I told her to watch English or American movies with Chinese or English subtitles first and to watch the same movie over and over again so that she doesn’t need subtitles. I also recommended her to listen to audio books in English. The conversation didn’t end here. I then asked her to recommend me some Chinese movies and drama, and we went on talking.
Small talks actually help people get closer, laugh together, cry together, be angry about something together, and sometimes disagree with one another. It is for me the best therapy someone can get in order to get out of depression, to feel less stressed and more relaxed. In fact, many a time, talking to someone makes you feel better, both mentally and emotionally. The connection that we have with other human beings can be strengthened through the internet like we bloggers do, but I believe that we need human contact to lead a happier life.
Midweek already! Patience! 😉