Friendship and small talk

I had a fun enough day that I felt energised enough to do some more work on my book about friendship.

Do you avoid making and maintaining social relationships through small talk? If so, why?

Is it because you are shy, angry or tired?
You might be an introvert who finds that talking to people takes a lot of energy. I’m introverted and I need my space, but my eight year old daughter is a complete extrovert. We differ in the amount of time we can spend with others, but we both need – and want - relationships. We just do it slightly differently.

When I’m angry, I often don’t feel like making the effort. Sometimes, however, that’s when I need others the most, to bring me some perspective, or some solace. There’s nothing as good at changing an angry mood as spending time with positive people.

Tiredness is another matter. That’s when I find it best to get into bed and get a decent night’s sleep. I’m far more able to cope with others after my eight hours.

Do you not really like people?
Do you fear others? Did you grow up in a family that kept others out or complained about people all the time? Have you been badly hurt by someone? It’s well worth exploring any issues there may be in your life, either by yourself or with a trusted friend or counsellor.

Are you too busy?
I’m an organised type of person who tends to be ‘task-oriented’. I focus on the job I’m doing, often to the exclusion of the people around me. I’ll leave a conversation so I can finish what I’m focusing on right then. Because I’m good at doing things, I also usually have about five things to do at once.

I often think, “Once I get everything done, I’ll sit down and talk.” The trouble is, everything is never done. And when it is, I find other things to do. Doing things makes me feel important and in control. Talking to people means giving up some of my importance and control, so it’s threatening.

Task-oriented people like me need to find a way to keep people as priority number one.

Do you avoid small talk because you simply lack the skills?
Some people did not grow up in families where these things were known or taught. As adults they avoid these kinds of interactions because they just don’t know how to do it.

If you’re no good at small talk, start listening to people who are good at it. You might pick up some tips.