My daughter, an introvert, finds living in our extrovert world uncomfortable: social gatherings, networking, meet and greets. But during these months of social limitations, she’s told me, with a smirk on her face, “Now the extroverts have to live in my introvert world!”
For over 15 months we have been living as introverts. But now that we have been vaccinated, we can put aside the puzzles, books and DVDs of our favorite movies and go out; see friends we haven’t seen for months and ask, “Now, what is your name?”.
Most of us long for moments of spontaneous conversation: the small talk between friends and new acquaintances. But as with any skill, we may have lost the ability to make small talk: feeling awkward and out of practice. (Or you may be jabbering to anyone about anything, thankful someone is listening besides your faithful canine companion!)
But as with most skills, you don’t really lose it. And whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, now that you are socializing, you might want to brush up on your conversational skills.
Janet Siroto in her April article for Next Avenue, a web–based news site for older adults, shares ways you can get back in the habit of small conversations with old and new friends.
1.) Don’t lose your confidence because small talk doesn’t come as easy. It will take time and practice.
2.) Avoid focusing on the dark cloud in the room. The pandemic has been difficult but try to focus on the future. It will make a more pleasant and less stressful conversation.
3.) Avoid the “can you top this” competition whether it is about the pandemic or how early your grandchild spoke his first word: “No!”.
4.) Anticipate the most common greeting, “How are you doing?”. Instead of the typical response, you could answer “It’s been tough, but I’ve learned a few things.” This opens up the conversation for the person to ask about what you’ve learned.
And I’ll add one more that’s a personal weakness of mine. Don’t do all the talking! Take a breath and let someone else add a few words.
If you keep practicing, you may reach the gold standard of small talk: talking with someone who knows you, but you don’t remember them and must chit-chat as if you do!
As we begin to exit these challenging times, small talk can be a valuable skill helping us reconnect and build the foundation for deeper relationships as we move back into the extrovert’s world.
Try this on for size. I hope it brings a smile.
A property manager of a single-family residence was showing a unit to prospective tenants and asking the usual questions. “Professionally employed?” he asked. “We’re a military family,” the wife answered. “Children?” “Oh, yes, ages nine and twelve,” she answered proudly. “Animals?” “Oh, no,” she said earnestly. “They’re very well behaved.”
In the 1961 Walt Disney produced film The Absent-Minded Professor starring Fred MacMurray, Professor Ned Brainard discovered a new substance he called Flubber (a blending of flying and rubber). I received correct answers from Susan Ellis, Gene Uczen, Barbara Cadwell, Tina Castanares, Rhonda Spies, Mike McFarlane, Jess Birge, Lana Tepfer, Russ Noe, Dave Lutgens, Rose Schulz, Doug Nelson, Jack Bissett, and Eileen Utroske, this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Doug Nelson, Judy Hanson, Joan Chantler, Mike Yarnell, and Mary Zenorini.
While sitting on our front porch In The Dalles, my wife and I can watch the planes, trains and automobile, and the occasional barge, traveling up and down the Gorge. Every time I see a plane, I yell out to my wife’s consternation, “Ze plane! Ze plane!”, For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the television series aired from 1977 to 1984 where Mr. Roarke’s assistant Tattoo would yell those words after running up the tower and ringing the bell? E-mail your answers to email@example.com, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a scale model of a Grumman Widgeon amphibious aircraft.
Well, it’s been another week, listening for the train coming around the mountain when she comes. Until we meet again, don’t always believe everything you think.
“If you have the choice between humble and cocky, go with cocky. There’s always time to be humble later, once you’ve been proven horrendously, irrevocably wrong.” Kinky Friedman