Small Talk

notes from Janey . . .

Tupelo and I meet a lot of people. On the nights we perform, we see new faces, shake new hands, talk to new people. Incredible possibilities to meet interesting people, but instead, small talk dominates these evenings because there is just not enough time to get to the big questions.

For example, the conversation never goes from, “So, where ya goin’ from here?” to “So, what’s your purpose in life and what have you been doing about it lately?”

I understand this and don’t fault it a bit. I can add to a conversation of small talk with the best of them. Traveling as we do to places where we’re not performing, I rely on small talk at first so that I can meet people.

Notice that I said at first. I can give it three, maybe four sentences/questions, and then I want a more meaningful conversation. It doesn’t have to come down to “So, what do you think happens when we die?” but if I haven’t laughed or learned something or heard an intriguing story, I’ve pretty much lost interest.

Some people don’t get beyond the small talk, not even with their family or their closest friends. This can be dangerous. In this case, small talk becomes our big talk. And it’s the big talk that can define us. If our conversations are mundane, chances are, our lives tend to be too. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? If we don’t stretch ourselves to consider new ideas, new feelings, have new conversations, small talk takes on a much bigger role. We give it more power than it deserves.

Here are some examples of small talk. Gossip is small talk. Complaining or whining are too. How about self-deprecating words such as “I’m so stupid,” “I’m too fat,” or “I’m clumsy, (or unlucky, poor, or ugly, etc.)”? Also unkind or sarcastic remarks to or about family or friends are demeaning to everyone involved.

Small talk can kill close relationships. Small talk can kill intimacy. Small talk limits us. Small talk becomes big talk when it dominates our conversations and dominates our thinking. We’re too big for that.

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Notice the conversations you have during the next week. Does the small talk ramble on longer than it should? And who’s fault is it? Yours or the other person? If you find yourself not going to a deeper level with your words, chances are, the same thing is happening in your life.

Skimming the surface with friends, family, or strangers means that the encounter can be of interest for only so long. Don’t be afraid to kick it up a notch. Go deeper. Get to know someone better. Let them get to know you. The ones that still hang around after a few of these conversations are the ones we want in our lives.

Make room for them by eliminating the small talk.

(Article and photo by Janey Wing Kenyon)

This is the end of the article entitled Small Talk published by Tupelo Kenyon on August 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm | In Communication, Discipline, Relationships - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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