Small Talk 101

I don’t like small talk. I never have and I have only gotten worse with time. And in theory, I don’t like gossip, but I find myself falling into that trap all too often.

Lately I have been in more situations where small talk is required. So here are some guidelines.

Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about the climate. Don’t talk about the prejudice and scandal of the world.

Talk about the weather. Talk about growing old and all your physical ailments. Talk about food.

Hmmm….what’s wrong with this picture?

Several years ago I attended a Road Scholar program in New Mexico. Because of the topic, Crypto-Jews of New Mexico, there were many Jewish people in attendance. In fact, I think there were only four of us who weren’t Jewish. It was during those five days that I learned that art of the dinner table debate. Oh, how I love it.

These folks could talk about anything and everything. Nothing was taboo or too controversial. The difference? No one got mad. No one told anyone else they were wrong. If they actually thought someone was wrong they didn’t lecture them, instead they asked for a detailed explanation of how the person in question had formed their opinion. And throughout there was REAL listening, to the point that on occasion someone changed their mind.

I loved it because it was informative. It was deep and it was factual. People laughed and shook their heads, never pointed a finger and sneered.

I think if I could be assured that my attempts at small talk would be met with such acceptance I would like it a whole lot more.