I’ve felt a bit uninspired and repressed lately, so I’ve started doing what has always come most naturally to me: writing my rambling thoughts out. I find writing is the best way to vent and express myself, and I haven’t done as much of it as I should in the past few years. Our social schedule has been busier than normal for us the past month, which has been quite exhausting for me. So in my down time one of my minds ways of unwinding is to reflect on those interactions.
As an introvert living in an extroverted world, I’ve learned how to adapt and act in ways that make me appear far less awkward than I probably truly am. My biggest issue in school when I was little, as reported by teachers to my parents, was always my “shyness” and reluctance to raise my hand. I hate when the word shy is used to describe an introverted person, because that simply is not always the case, nor is it even the definition of introversion. Anyone who knows me well knows I am not shy, I’m simply just an observer. The quality of gathering your thoughts and only speaking if you have something poignant to say is not often outwardly hailed as a positive quality, in fact it oftentimes gets you labeled as shy or boring. I can’t tell you how annoyed I was my entire life at the kids whose hands darted up instantly at any question, while having nothing of substance to say, just participation points to reap. I was a bit of a tortured soul through most of my academic career!
Anyhow like I said, you learn to adapt to what most of society and it’s institutions expect of you, whether or not it leaves you heading home exhausted. And the biggest hurdle for me in social settings has always been small talk. My whole life I’ve loathed it, found it dull, phony, and a waste of my time. I swear the main reason my life-long best friend, Amanda, and I have remained friends is because we both thrive on deep conversations, something I (and she) find hard to come by in many people. However as I’ve matured (I hope?), I’ve learned that many of the things I “hate” or look down my nose on, are probably things I just need to reframe my thinking about. So I became a bit of a social scientist the past several years when it comes to small talk. How can I more effectively engage? How can I, a bit of a socially awkward person, get people to connect and feel comfortable? The answer is one you’ve probably heard before: get them to talk about themselves. I know some famous person must have once said “everyone’s favorite subject is themselves”, and how true I have found that to be. Is the world run rampant with narcissism, or is self disclosure just that rewarding? The reason why isn’t really what matters here though, and this isn’t a judgmental observation. I’m just as guilty of talking about myself as the next person is. I mean, hello, isn’t *me* what this blog is primarily based around? Rather, the point is that I’ve found when trying to build relationships with others, the absolute best topic of conversation the vast majority of people respond to and seem to further engage with is conversation centered around themselves. Take it from my one woman scientific study. If you want to be better at small talk, or even more well liked, just keep opening the door for them to talk about their favorite topic: themselves.