Mastering Small Talk

small talk comic

Okay – this may sound ridiculous but, for an introvert like me, this is a real thing. I’m terrible at small talk. I jump from “Nice weather, right?” to “Do you feel like you’re living a meaningful life?” way too quickly. In high school, there was even an article written by the local newspaper that somehow focused on this part of me:

Anne McCarthy makes it a point to get to know people. When she approaches her teammates for one of her trademark long talks, her friends poke fun: “Anne’s gonna go have another life chat.”

Not sure who they interviewed for that part. Regardless, it’s part of who I am in many ways. It’s how I’ve managed to create a lot of very deep friendships in my life that I’m so thankful for.

Today, I volunteered through Hands on Orlando which is an AWESOME organization that I’ve volunteered with since high school. Whenever I’m in town, I try to make a point to sign up for some opportunities. Today’s involved sorting items for a nonprofit that gives, well, everything away to those in need (clothing, food, toiletries, makeup, kitchenware, etc).

After a brief introduction, we all were put in front of large boxes filled to the brim with a random assortment of items.

“Does anyone want to team up on this?” Without thinking, the words popped out of my mouth. A woman next to me jumped at the opportunity and I soon realized this was my time to practice my small talk skills. Turns out, her name was Anne, she majored in psychology, and has traveled all over the place (25 states) with her job. My small talk was on point! I didn’t ask a single overly personal question the entire time! AND we had fun. AND there was silence at points and it was totally okay! It was magical.

For those of you looking to sharpen your small talk skills, here are a list of questions I skipped asking and small talk questions I asked instead. Consider this a lesson in kind of reframing + restraint?

Deep question 1: What drew you to the psychology field when you were in school?

Small talk question 1 : How did you like majoring in psychology?

Deep question 2: What is your family dynamic like?

Small talk question 2: Do you have any siblings?

Deep question 3: Where do you think you would want to settle down and make a life?

Small talk question 3: What places did you really enjoy traveling to?

Deep question 4: What is your dream job that you’d want to do for the rest of your life if you could?

Small talk question 4: How’s work for you?

Deep question 5: What are you most excited about in your life?

Small talk question 5: Do you have any fun weekend plans?

Folks, just call me the “Small Talk Master”. 10 points for Gryffindor!




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