This is one post that I hope my colleague never reads. If she does, then I guess she’ll probably agree: Small talk, sucks.
Was on my way home — out the doors of People’s Park Centre where I work, towards the stairs down to the MRT, when I noticed two colleagues at the corner of my eye. I stopped dead in my tracks, then realising it may be too late as they might have seen me already, I made a dash for the stairs, hoping to appear to be in a hurry and thus not to be disturbed.
Too late, they saw me. Gosh, they shouldn’t have. I don’t speak their language, they don’t speak mine, both literally and figuratively. Dang, I was in for it. Small talk is sure to follow. But I was lucky. There were two of them, so they could keep each other busy with their small talk.
Unfortunately, they were both going different directions. One going the other way, one going my way, oh no! And as luck would have it, there were no seats, so we had to stand opposite each other. I kept smiling, as I had nothing to say, and it was all I could muster to appear polite.
She tried to get me in conversation. “So, what primary school did you come from?”
The train was noisy, I didn’t feel like talking, so my brain pretty much dulled my sense of hearing to the point where all she was saying was “whoosh, whoosh, screech”.
“Huh? What did you say?” I smiled even more to cover up my inner feeling of helplessness, of being trapped in a train carriage with small talk obligations. Small talk occurred. On and on, for about two minutes. It went on till we exhausted all our options, from primary school to University, brothers and sisters, to home walking distances.
I tried taking over the responsibility sometimes. “How about you?” I would ask, so that (1) I didn’t have to think of new questions, and (2) I would appear to be interested and thus friendly.
The question and answer session ended. Silence followed. Very uncomfortable I might add. The whole train trip I was busily looking for something for my eyes to fixate on, such that I could excuse myself from small talk obligations. I looked to my left, to my right, above, and below. I finally settled on looking at a girl’s shoes, and closed my eyes once in a while to “show” that I was sleepy and excuse us both from small talk.
That trip lasted 30 minutes, it felt like an hour. Small talk sucks. It’s weird you know. There are some people whom I can remain quiet with all the time, and still don’t feel odd or strange. These are the people whom I love to be with. When we do talk, it isn’t forced, and conversations tend to be very enlightening and interesting.
Please, if anything, understand this: I prefer to remain silent than to engage in small talk. If there is something to be said, let it be informative or meaningful, and not just so that there is no silence. Silence is golden, and if it should be broken, it should be with words worth more than gold. Is it just me, or do other people actually feel the same way?
I have always felt myself to be a little anti-social. How many people actually dislike conversation?
I love to read and write. Professionally, data science, technology, and sales ops are my thing. In my non-professional life, I aspire quite simply to be a good person, and encourage others to do the same. For those who care, I test as INFJ in the MBTI.