A Neurotic’s Guide to Small Talk

06loose-master675.jpgHave you seen this article from The New York Times.com? I first found it on the lifestyle blog Cup of Jo, and couldn’t help but laugh out loud. It is entitled “A Neurotic’s Guide to Small Talk” and serves as a “helpful” road map to navigating social interactions this holiday season. I really relate to the picture above, as I have a bad habit of going over everything I said during the day and mentally kicking myself for it! But I also relate to some of the following situations outlined in the article below:

Q: “Hey, how’s it going?”

In this instance, the speaker is somewhat interested in knowing how you are, but only the smallest details. Don’t over-share, but don’t under-share, either. Keep your answer succinct and stop doing that thing with your hands. Everyone is watching you do that thing with your hands and the longer you stand there, the more prominent the hand thing becomes.

Q: “Where do you work?”

Go to the bathroom. Now, now, now. This conversation has shifted dramatically, and you need to get out of there. Say something like, “Be right back,” or “Gotta go pee,” but don’t say it too loud, or too weird. Say it normal, for crying out loud. BE NORMAL.

Q: “How’s your family?”

Wait. Didn’t you see on Facebook that this guy’s parents recently split up? If you say your family’s “good” it’s almost like rubbing it in his face, like: “Look at my good family. I’m so lucky. No divorce for this guy.” Say your family is “fine,” but don’t smile while you say it, that way he knows that you sympathize, but you’re not trying to steal his sadness thunder. Also stop doing that thing with your hands, you literal monster.

Q: “Are you still living in Brooklyn?”

Leave this place. They know too much.


Please tell me I’m not the only one who relates to this?! Human to human interaction is hard. Especially after spending a year in Germany, where small talk is virtually nonexistent, my American small-talk skills are severely lacking. Sometimes I drink a lot of water before parties just to have an excuse to go to the bathroom multiple times for a much needed time out….introvert problems! If I had to add a few of my own scenarios to this article, they would be:

Q: (Person knocks on bathroom door) Hello?

You’ve been discovered. Don’t panic. Be COOL! How should I respond? Should I say “hello” back? Or maybe “I’m in here”? No, that sounds too conceited. They already know you’re in here stupid. Too much time has passed, now it’s awkward to respond, the window of opportunity has closed. Just wait it out silently…they’ll go away eventually, then you can sneak out and hide behind the appetizer buffet in hopes the person won’t see you.

Q: What’s new with you?

Do they really want to know? Didn’t they see your latest Fbook status about your grandma passing away? This is a trap. I repeat, a trap. They probably don’t really want to know, they’re just trying to be nice. Respond with a quick “Nothin’ much” and pose the same question back to them. Keep it casual. Well played, my friend, well played.

Q: You’re leaving the party so soon?

Busted…You’ve been caught. Come on man, you’re work is getting sloppy. You used to be able to exit a party early without a single person noticing. It’s your spiritual gift. Mumble an indecipherable response such as “I have work tomorrow” or “I’m not feeling too well” and flee. Don’t look back.

Question of the Day
Do you ever feel this way? Don’t get me wrong, I love people as much as anyone, but sometimes I just.can’t.function. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


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