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I don't like small talk

Updated on August 1, 2011

Idle chatter is not something I am terribly skilled at, and nor am I particularly interested in advancing this skill.

Small talk is a skill best left to people who enjoy the banter and play of unsubstantial dialog.

I, for one, will have

  • logistical conversations - I'll see you at X at time Y
  • decision making conversations - Yes, we will do this, no, we won't buy that
  • substantial conversations - discussions concerning politics, religion, prognostication, climate change or civilization descent
  • educational conversations - I will ask questions to gain information, or I will answer questions to provide information

I do not think I am alone in this lack of interest in small talk.

At parties I will generally have one-on-one conversations with various people to ask them specific topical questions to move a conversation into a meaningful connection. If, however, I see by body language and tone of voice of the person with whom I am speaking that they are more prone to idle chatter and are not interesting in having a conversation of greater substance, I back off. It serves no purpose to plunge forward in such circumstances.

I would write more in this hub but I believe I have made my point. Anything more would be superfluous.

Do you typically engage in small talk?

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    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Whois, succinctly put.

    • whoisbid profile image

      whoisbid 5 years ago

      Small talk is ok for me when making money. Otherwise it is a waste of time

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Ag, thanks for stopping by, yes, a necessary evil.

      Giselle, I do not find it restrictive at a party - there are always gregarious outgoing people who enjoy speaking in a group that will take command of a conversation while there are others in a group conversation who have an equal interest in participating. In a group I will not often put in my two cents preferring more to have on on one conversations.

      The knack of leaping straight into a conversation is knowing what leading question to ask. Or it can be a specific 'small talk' question that invariably leads to something more meaningful.

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 6 years ago

      Agaglia and Phil.... I'm jumping back into the discussion here, hope you don't mind... then how do things work at a party if you don't like small talk? Unless you have some knack of leaping straight into deep and meaningful discussions? I don't think I could easily do that without a transition like "small talk".

      Also, I'm genuinely curious about other people & their personality in general, and it's possible to see quite a lot about them by what they say in "small talk" - sometimes just as much or more than if they were talking purely on 1 topic that they're passionate about.

      So how do you get to have group conversations easily at a party if you don't like small talk?? I think Phil you mentioned you prefer one-on-one talking but don't you find that a bit restrictive if you're at a party? Or not? Am genuinely curious and interested about this.

    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 6 years ago

      I agree. I don't really care for small talk either. But, I think it is a necessary evil. I like having intelligent, educational, enlightening conversations.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Giselle, your point about making newcomers feel welcome in a group setting is apt. This is why I usually focus on one-on-one conversations - often in a group I will listen and really only participate when asked a specific question.

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 6 years ago

      Interesting hub, and I had to laugh appreciatively when I read your last sentence!!

      Actually I happen to like small talk quite a lot especially in certain settings. e.g. if I'm hanging out at the park with a friend who also has toddlers, we each have to devote so much attention to our kids that our conversation becomes a series of disjointed 'small talk' comments here and there. Another situation where small talk works out well is at cocktail parties or other group settings - small talk serves well as a sort of introductory conversation from which it's easy to have someone new to the group join easily into the conversation. And small talk can make eating lunch as a group fun and upbeat at work!

      However, I agree with you that 'small talk' isn't always helpful, and certainly people who are already close friends can move straight into substantial conversations. A very thought-provoking hub!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      It seems with climate change and the resulting change in weather, that the weather is not only a safe topic, but one that is having an impact on people's lives. I would generally start with this but in very short order move over to climate change as the topic.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oddly enough, one of the things my mother taught me is that weather is always a safe topic with someone you don't know well. Politics and religion--unsafe!!! Stay away!!

      So my ordinary conversation is bland as oatmeal. When I write, on the other hand, I can let myself rip! BEWARE!

      I understand why you eschew (I love that word!) small talk; it is an utter waste of time, but does seem to put people at ease long enough for them to open up with something interesting.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      PM, thanks for stopping by, I figured I wouldn't be alone in this.

    • Pintoman profile image

      Pintoman 6 years ago

      I agree. Small talk may get you into a meaningful conversation but for some people, that's all there is and it bores me to death.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      DJ, that is a most excellent reason for making use of small talk. If I was in your same situation, I would do the same.

    • DavyJones02 profile image

      DavyJones02 6 years ago from Netherlands

      I think small talk does have its uses, I for one live in a high building with elevators. So when I meet people from my building while going out or returning home there's not enough time to really go into a subject but not speaking to eachother for a minute is no solution either as it is good to be on good standards with your neighbours. But I do agree that in most scenario's is hate small talk as well and will try to avoid it.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      MM, thanks for stopping by - indeed it does get boring.

      Paj, it is true that small talk often leads to gossip, this is yet another reason why I don't like small talk.

    • pajamazzon profile image

      pajamazzon 6 years ago

      Small talk is quite engaging but to a certain extent that it sometimes becomes smeared gossip talk in the end where people would ask what your opinion's like but in reality they would talk about it to other people about what you think. I would say no.

    • miccimom profile image

      miccimom 6 years ago from U.S.A

      I will engage in small talk at work to be polite and to respect my co-workers. BUT, sometimes the boredom does get out of hand and my interest in the conversation dies off. I will somehow have to "go finish something", and excuse myself politley. I liked the hub though, good conversation for "small talk" :) Have a great day Phil!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      moncrieff, while I will not argue with you about the rules of etiquette, I will maintain that people generally do not follow those rules.

      EB, hopefully I don't come off as rude - at least thus far none of my closest friends have indicated I am.

      Brett, I agree that with some people small talk is a necessary starting point, so I endeavour to start that way also in those circumstances.

      Spif, thanks for the votes!

    • SpiffyD profile image

      SpiffyD 6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Small talk can be a useful starter, but hopefully it does not stay there for more than the introduction. If small talk is a staple, then that can hardly be meaningful conversation. The worst thing is when couples devolve into idle chatter when they are avoiding real issues. That is mere talking as opposed to intimate communication. Nice hub. Voted up and interesting.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 6 years ago from Thailand

      For me, it really depends on the person I am talking to. Sometimes small talk can be fun and interesting, leading to more in depth conversations. However, other times it can be a drag and something you want to try and escape ... but do as a part of being polite.

    • Ebower profile image

      Erin Bower 6 years ago from Georgia

      Considering I have worked retail in the past before, I do not like small talk. It is a tool that is used for in certain work situations and does not seem to mean much. I have said, "Hey, how are you?" way too many times and people's responses would not be genuine. I would assume that more outgoing people would like small talk and introverted people would only talk if what they are saying contains substance. I am the latter; therefore, I do not enjoy small talk, but I will engage in it in order to not be perceived as rude. I voted this up and interesting!

    • moncrieff profile image

      moncrieff 6 years ago from New York, NY

      Hm... small talk is part of the rules of etiquette: it's awkward/rude to be quiet standing next to a person. I'm not good at it myself, nevertheless I feel compelled to engage into a talk. Knowing that it's not my best skill, I'm trying to improve it by more practicing it. And it seems to work. Cheers.