What would you do if some random person started small talk with you?
Are you going to answer them?
Are you going to freeze in the situation?
Or are you going to run to get out of that awkward conversation?
Is small talk causing social anxiety?
Or is it the other around?
Watch the full video to know the answer!
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Small talk sucks!
Or does it?
I actually don’t have a problem with it. But a lot of people who suffer from social anxiety, which is what I used to suffer from, for a very, very long-time report that they hate small talk.
And they often say things like, well, “I don’t like that superficial stuff,” “I want to deeply connect with someone I care about really profound conversations and that kind of stuff.”
And I’m the same!
I like that too!
Or not all the time.
However, in my experience, that preference, or rather that hate towards small talk, and that judgment of small talk, rather comes from not feeling comfortable with small talk and not being able to do it.
And that’s not because if you’re – if this is you – if you have a problem with small talk, that’s not because small talk is the problem, or that you’re not capable of doing it.
It is the anxiety that’s producing the problem.
Because the anxiety is telling your brain in that social situation, ‘Run! This is a potential danger! You might get rejected; you might make a fool out of yourself; you might embarrass yourself; you might do this wrong’, etc.
And so, run from this situation, or fight this situation — but you can’t because it’s inappropriate, you know, you can’t punch everyone in the face.
So, freeze – that’s your last option.
So, it’s actually the fight-flight-freeze response that’s being activated because your brain is perceiving a threat.
Now your whole system is in survival mode. And that means you don’t have access to your rational thinking because you’re in survival thinking.
And now you’re focusing on the worst-case scenario.
You’re looking for any possible things that can go wrong so that you can best prepare to deal with it.
That’s actually a normal response.
However, it’s activated when there’s no real threat.
There’s just the perceived threat of rejection or ridicule, and so on.
And for some people, that’s not so much a threat. Because they haven’t had in their past – certain experiences that caused so much pain – that rejection or embarrassment or so on has been labeled as a threat.
Anyway, because of that anxiety, it’s not possible to comfortably make small talk.
And so now you’re like, get all these rules about small talk, ‘well, I have to do it right, can’t do it wrong, I have to leave the right amount of pause in between things, I need to say something that is kind of socially appropriate. And according to these people and their beliefs, and so on.
And you make up this whole idea in your head about how it’s supposed to go, and you need to fit it.
And you need to do it right.
You can’t leave any awkward pauses and all of that.
All of that thinking is part of the problem, resulting from anxiety, worry, and dread.
So that makes small talk horrible.
And usually, deeper talk is not what you start off with.
Although I had a guy in Bali – he was a bit of an odd character. And he would start asking people for the first question, “Hey! What’s your life purpose?”
Pretty awkward questions like, “Dude, why would I be telling you that? We don’t know each other, we haven’t connected. And we haven’t had any small talk yet”.
Because that’s actually where I want to transition to.
This is how I see it.
This how I experienced it.
Small talk is a way for people to kind of get to know each other.
Not that you’re really interested that much about where someone is from, or even what their name is — yes, you care a bit, but not that much. It’s not going to change your life. You can have much more fascinating conversations than the weather or where the person is from.
But it is an opening.
And it is a way to kind of feel that initial time with each other. And to help because it is a bit uncomfortable. Because it’s new – you don’t know the person; the person doesn’t know you.
So, we have some kind of agreed-upon socially appropriate ways to connect with someone and kind of move past that initial uncomfortableness for some people.
And so, you ask easy things that are easy for people to answer, that they’ve practiced, that they’ve done many times. “Hey! Nice to meet you. What’s your name?” — That easy.
“Hey, how’s it going? You good?” – “Yeah, yeah, I’m good too!”
So, it’s very random.
And it just feels those first couple of seconds.
And you can give some approval to the other person, and you can get some approval and acceptance from the other person.
And you can show that you respect, and like, and approve of that person.
And by doing so, you get that back.
And now this interaction starts going, and you’re talking about some fluff stuff like where I live, there’s a lot of people that are from different countries. So. I almost always ask, “where are you from?”
Do I care? – Yeah, I care a bit.
Do I really, really care? – No. Not so much. I mean, I’ve asked the question so many times.
Are you from Russia? – Okay, well, I know what it’s like there.
Oh, you from that country? – Oh, I kind of know what it’s like that.
But we have something in common.
Now people ask me all the time, “So where are you from?” – I’m from Holland.
“Alright! So where are you from in Holland?” – I’m from this little town, it has maybe 15,000 people; it’s a small town – everyone kind of knows each other. 2 football clubs; 2 supermarkets – it’s super small. You can drive through it on your pedal bike in seven minutes. But it’s where to tulips are from, and that’s it! It’s about 30 KMs from Amsterdam.
I almost say the same thing every single time.
Do I care that I say the same thing?
Is it fascinating to me?
But, we’re just feeling in the time; we’re getting acquainted.
And as seconds go by as a minute goes by and we exchanged some approval of each other, some with respect to each other.
I smile, I’m friendly, I demonstrate that I approve of this person, that I want to connect with this person, and now we can start opening up!
That then can lead to deeper conversations.
But it starts with small talk.
And when you’re comfortable with that, it is actually enjoyable because it’s not really about the content of the words being exchanged.
It’s the energy that you’re building between someone else.
You’re getting to know someone.
And as you’re getting to know someone and as you’re exchanging like a nice vibe with each other, then you are likely to become, or to feel genuinely curious!
“Oh, you’re about that part in Russia!” – Oh, I heard it’s like this, and that and then the other person is like oh yeah that’s true that’s what most people think but actually what it is is like that oh really tell me more about that whatever
And then you have a more interesting conversation
It doesn’t always go that way can go and older different sorts of directions.
I just want to say small talk isn’t the problem — social anxiety is the problem
When you resolve the social anxiety, small talk is just how we get acquainted with how we move past that initial stage to moving into the next stage of getting to know each other better.
And then eventually going to ask what my friend asked, “what’s your life purpose?” It is a deep, profound conversation if you like. You can just keep it on the surface and just be playful and have fun and so on.
So I hope this is helpful for you.
If you have any insights about why you hate small talk or why you love small talk, put it in the comment section below, and I’ll talk to you very soon.
If you want to overcome your social anxiety, go to my website www.social-anxiety-solutions.com and get your free social confidence starter kit
Get it there you get my eBook how I overcame my social anxiety; helped hundreds of others the same podcast that you can check out; we have almost 50,000 downloads a month – Social Anxiety Solutions – check the first episodes as is where I was very excited still, was interviewing lots of lots of people PhDs, researchers, Psychologists, Psychotherapists you name it the first 60 episodes then afterward, I started changing things up, and after a while, I’m going to be interviewing people again just other things going on in my life
But hope is helpful
Go check out that free starter kit you get the ten videos of five minutes where I teach the technique that I’ve used to overcome my own social anxiety and the main technique that I use in helping my clients, and it’s not deep breathing or forcefully facing your fears.
It is an emotional release technique to neutralize the emotion so you can become comfortable with small talk.
Go check it out and www.social-anxiety-solutions.com
Bye for now.
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