I spent the past week celebrating the holiday with extended family in the mountains. With some family members, I had a lot to talk about and catch up on. However, with others, it was a bit difficult to come up with conversation topics. As an introvert, I generally prefer deeper conversations to small talk, but do realize that some small talk is a part of life. I’ve definitely gotten better at starting and carrying on conversations. As I was hanging out with family, I reflected on a few strategies and thoughts when it comes to small talk and conversations.
Take an interest in the other person
I know that as an introvert, sometimes I have felt awkward in conversations and have simply answered the questions asked of me. I have learned to turn this around and make the conversation about all involved. This may simply be answering the question asked, but then asking the same question of the other person. If they say “how is work going?” then I will answer but in return ask the same question of them. I also am trying to make a better effort in remembering details about people, such as where they live, what they like to do, or how many kids they have, etc.
A little silence is OK
Relax and enjoy the conversation. Remember that a little silence is OK. As an introvert, you may need to think before speaking, and the same goes for your fellow introverts. Also, remember if there is silence it means everyone is quiet and not just you. Don’t pressure yourself to fill every moment with conversation. Relax and enjoy the silence.
Take a break when you need to
Non-stop conversation can be draining for most introverts. I think this will vary by introvert, as well as the particular conversation and who the conversation is with. You need to know your limits and have an escape plan when needed. This may be a trip to the restroom or a walk outside. In this case, I was in the mountains and I found a quiet place to take a nap. I definitely don’t get to take many naps these days so I enjoyed this little “nap escape” quite a bit.
Be aware of the needs of other introverts
While I have come to better understand my own strengths, I need to remember what it can be like to struggle as an introvert. As I had some conversations with some introverted relatives, I tried to remember the above concepts for them as well. I took an interest in them, was not worried about silence, and honored any need for breaks and solitude they had.
Remember to relax… it’s just small talk.
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