Sheldon: I made tea.
Leonard: I don’t want tea.
Sheldon: I didn’t make tea for you. This is my tea.
Leonard: Then why are you telling me?
Sheldon: It’s a conversation starter.
Leonard: That’s a lousy conversation starter.
Sheldon: Oh, is it? We’re conversing. Checkmate.
I hate small talk. Anyone who thinks same as me, raise your hand. I can’t see it but I know few of you reading my post waving their hand in the air!
To me, it was nothing more than blah, blah, blah. Few of the reasons being – we are socialized to be wary of strangers, we think too many questions makes us nosy, introducing ourselves and others is not easy always, initiating, carrying on and ending a conversation is a challenge and lastly, finding similarities and interest in our conversation partners is hard at times. I used to think my mother knows everyone in a social gathering or weddings. Now I realize that she didn’t, but had the ability to talk with anyone as though they were an old friend.
I should say that during my school life, I have dealt with a crippling anxiety. It was more intense at sometimes than at others but it was always present. I would cringe in paralyzing fear at the prospect of starting a conversation with someone or even just saying ‘Hi, how’re you doing?’ to them made my head spin in pain. I couldn’t accept someones invitation to go out, or even hang out on my own turf, because I felt that I just didn’t know how to “be.” Some would say I had social phobia. Inwardly I have anxiety relating to people, sometimes mild or moderate, sometimes severe, but outwardly people tell me I seem extremely friendly and at ease. Sometime the simplest little conversations can make or break a relationship, or for that matter making or breaking a beautiful date, many time I had a tongue slippage that almost got me canned. I know that I am one of those people who feels like I have to keep the ball moving if I strike up a conversation…and storytelling to emphasize a point is a great takeaway for me just like for many of us.
Unless you live in a cave, your conversations with others will be more valuable to you because in the business/professional world, social skills sign your checks. In theory, we know about networking. we have the business cards, the firm handshake, and the sparkling smile. We just don’t know how to get people to talk about more than where the bathroom is or how nice the weather is.
“Language most shews a man: Speak, that I may see thee.” The great English dramatist and poet Ben Jonson wrote these words in the seventeenth century. They are as true today as they were then. With 11 years in the corporate world, I learnt that people evaluate you by the words you use and the way you use them. Of course, people also make judgments based on your body language, dress style, attitude, facial expressions and similar criteria that immediately register at a subconscious level. Except yes, I probably *should* evaluate my smiles and other facial expressions in the mirror.
But what to do when there is a crucial conversation??