Gumdrop Lane

How to with Laura, Ep. 10: How to Small Talk

Small talk is the bane of my existence, but I’m about to let you in on the secrets of turning your small talk to big talk. You don’t want to be boring. You don’t want to be so boring you make your listener grimace and desperately cast their glance around the room in search of a friend to rescue them from you. You want to be tolerable. You want to be liked. You want to be loved. You want to make good small talk and thus, big talk.

Small talk is a horrible yet necessary part of our everyday lives. It happens at work, at parties, in elevators, everywhere. It is inescapable. I am told some people enjoy the art of small talk. I find this inconceivable.

I’m not saying I’m Bill Bob Thornton in The Man Who Wasn’t There, but I’m not exactly Chatty Cathy comic strip Cathy. I just think we can all sit around be boring and/or make people feel anxious about having and/or not having certain things and jobs and being able to say the right thing to keep the conversation flowing, so why not spice up the cocoa of our conversation with something a little different?

Skip over any questions that immediately spring to mind and dig a little deeper. You may be surprised what you dig up.

Here are good things to talk about:

  1. Favorite snack foods
  2. Favorite Goldie Hawn movies
  3. Your pets
  4. BBC Masterpiece Classics/Contemporaries
  5. Baking
Here are bad things to talk about:
  1. Jobs
  2. School
  3. Your children
  4. Why you don’t “get” Bette Midler
  5. Why I’m not smiling

Another excellent thing to do at a party when you’re meeting a group of new people is to play a game! People get to know each other’s personalities, have fun and have the gas of the game to propel their boat of small talk. If you have access to board games – excellent! I highly recommend Settlers of Catan. Word games are just as good, if not better. You have Celebrity and even Charades is still good. Bust out a deck of cards, play some poker and try and get everyone’s money. Poker is especially great if you’re skilled at it and really don’t like most of the people present.

The point is small talk should be avoided at all costs. I don’t really want to be part of a conversation where I need a drink in my hand to cover an awkward silence or clearly mismatched conversational partner. I don’t want to take a pretend phone call or get a fake text to scoot away into the night.

I just want to talk about what I love and what you love. Unless you love your job doing who-knows-what at finance or hedge funding or whatnot. I don’t want to hear about that. When in doubt, simply bring up a controversial filmmaker about whom everyone is bound to have an opinion. Or just say something crazy to stir the pot, i.e. “Have you heard some women strive to have orgasmic birth experiences?” With topics like that, the heavy whipping cream of the pot will be whipped up into fluffy peaks of actual whipped cream in no time!

Challenge yourself to break the ice not with a meek and puny ice pick of a conversational nugget, but charge at it full steam ahead with a flame thrower.

Soon you’ll be swimming in big talk.

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