As an introvert, I hate awkward small talk. First of all, talking to people I don’t know very well isn’t exactly my favourite thing to do. Second of all, why talk at all when you have nothing to say?
That being said, ignoring small talk as an introvert might make for some awkward silence while waiting for the elevator. Or in the car. A lot of places, actually.
If you’re an introvert, talking about unimportant stuff like the weather might be your worst nightmare. It is mine for sure: I always feel like I want (or need) to say something but I can’t come up with anything. And I can’t deal with awkward silence, either.
Since casual small talk is clearly not for me but I still need a way to deal with these situations, I have come up with a strategy that is easy and works quite well most of the time. It helped me get better at small talk, even though I still can’t say I enjoy it. And today, I’d like to share these tips on how to handle small talk as an introvert with you.
If you’re really bad at small talk, just tell a story instead
The first small talk tip for introverts is something I learnt from my extroverted friend. I always admired how she mastered awkward small talk situations with such ease and decided to try and copy what she was doing.
I can’t remember the situation exactly because it was so long ago, but it was something like this: My friend came to my house and met my parents for the first time. My dad was doing something – let’s say repairing the microwave. He excused himself for being occupied and told my friend what had happened to the microwave.
Now, this would typically be a situation where I have nothing to say. What can you say about a microwave? But my friend started telling a story of how she once broke a microwave by setting a croissant with butter on fire (that actually happened).
This response made for a nice little conversation that was just long enough before we went up to my room.
I have used this technique ever since and I can assure you that it works like a charm! Granted, people won’t always be super interested in your stories. But that’s okay because it breaks the awkward silence and puts everyone (yourself included) much more at ease.
Usually, I will try to find something remotely related to what the other person said before. If he or she didn’t say anything yet but I still feel like we’re supposed to be talking, I talk about how my train was late this morning or what my plans are for the day. Just pick an appropriate, casual topic and say something that will break the silence.
It’s definitely a decent way to make small talk as an introvert.
Try follow-up questions instead of small talk
Telling a story is a great way to avoid silence when no one knows what to say, or when you have nothing to reply. But sometimes other people will start telling you a story first – and that’s when the situation becomes a lot easier!
Let’s be real: people like talking about themselves. If you show interest in what they’re saying, you will probably get them to say more. And they will probably think you’re nice because you’re listening!
This tip for dealing with small talk as an introvert is really simple: whenever you have the chance, ask questions about the other person.
If they told you that they didn’t sleep much, ask if they went out the night before. If you’re lucky, they’ll follow up with a description of their night. In this case, all you’ll have to say is “oh” and “cool” and “oh, no” in the right places and you’ll be fine.
Questions can break the silence
If you have never seen a person before, asking questions to break the silence might be very weird. Imagine you meet a new person in the elevator and they start questioning you about your plans for the night? Weird. When you don’t know a person, there’s really no need to talk.
But if you’ve been introduced or at least you know who the other is (a friend of a friend, a co-worker you’ve seen around but never worked with), you could get away with questions. How does the person know your friend? What exactly is their job? Have they got any plans for the holidays?
Again, asking questions should get the other person talking and get you off the hook. The perfect way to make small talk as an introvert!
Plus, you might actually end up having an interesting conversation. These social rituals are not all worthless!
Some people do their small talk on their own
Sometimes people start talking to you just because they feel like talking. It could be neighbours, other patients in a doctor’s waiting room, or even random people on the bus. It happens to me all the time!
Usually, they are perfectly happy when I just smile and don’t say anything. In fact, they almost seem annoyed when I reply! It’s a win-win for small talk haters like me because I don’t have to do anything.
I’m not going to lie though, I absolutely hate when random people start speaking to me! It makes me super uncomfortable and I can’t wait to get away. But at least I don’t have to do any small talk myself, right?
I hope you found this article helpful! If you did, be sure to share these small talk tips for introverts with your friends. 🙂