I have gotten so much better at small talk and keeping conversations going over the last couple of years, but I still have room for improvement. I have learned that small talk, while the topics may not be that interesting to me, can be a gateway to deeper conversations. I also find myself in situations where there really is no other choice than to make conversation. I was on a father-son type outing this weekend and was hanging out with the dads around the campfire. I thought I was doing my fair share of the talking, but someone had the sarcastic comment to me “keep it down over there.” I had just read an article the day before from Amy Krueger. Krueger outlines six strategies in “The 5 Words Introverts Loathe to Hear: Why Are You So Quiet?”
- Say nothing.
- Make a joke out of it.
- Ask for time to process.
- Don’t take it personally.
- Consider challenging yourself.
In this case, I just made a lame joke and said something like “yeah, you gotta keep an eye on me.”
I have utilized most of the other strategies at one time or another, but I really don’t like to “say nothing” when I hear a comment like this. I appreciate the author’s concept of being confident, and recognizing that there is nothing wrong with you and that you do not owe anyone an explanation, but for myself, I prefer to educate others on the topic of introversion. I often need to remind myself to not take it personally. However at the same time, I can always improve and must never stop challenging myself to be better.
I have been doing much more “educating” recently, but sometimes this can be a little much in casual conversation. Overall, one of the main purposes of the Quiet and Strong blog and the book I’m working on is to bring understanding to our strengths and differences. For example, recently, I have begun pointing out to people when I’m pausing to think, and that explanation seems to reduce some of the awkwardness of the silence.
Krueger’s list above is a good outline of some strategies when you are hit with the dreaded “why are you so quiet?” question. Hopefully you won’t encounter it too often, but it’s nice to have something in mind when the situation arises.