I hope this doesn't sound haughty. Small talk is *probably* the best way to begin a conversation (and make a connection), but it's just so terribly boring. I don't know if I speak for other INTP's, but what I dislike about it is that I'm always trying to see the "big picture" of whatever is going on in front of me and then someone will say something that would be considered small talk and it sometimes seems very irrelevant to the big picture and I have no idea how to respond to them.
If I'm on an airplaine, I might be thinking about what I'm going to do once I get there, doing some brainstrorming on a work project, reading a good article in a magazine, or just relaxing and listening to some good music. And then the person next to me might say something like:
"Lots of rain today, eh?"
What are you supposed to say to that? First thing that comes to mind for me is to look out the window to verify that there is indeed a lot of rain and then say, "Yep! Very astute observation." And then return to whatever I was doing. I know that sounds horrible, but "lots of rain today" doesn't give me much to go on. Maybe I should respond with "Yeah. And I really like bananas." People say that talking about the weather is a good connecting point, but how do you connect with "lots of rain today, eh?" If you think about it, that statement has almost ZERO meaning. It doesn't mean anything. It's just a very simple observation. "The airplane is white." "It's hot today." "Lots of rain today, eh?" Yep. Yep. And yep. That's really all I have to say about those things. I usually don't care to talk about those kinds of things.
I'm being a bit extreme to illustrate a point. We all use small talk to some degree. I don't want people to think I'm a total jerk, so a lot of times I engage in the small talk. But, if it goes on for more than a few minutes, it just gets really, really old cuz it feels like we're both standing there talking about NOTHING.
Really, for me - it's about "how important is the thing we are talking about". To me, talking about the shooting in Tucson and how that's going to affect the future is fairly important. Talking about China and why they are the next world superpower is important. Talking about how to get food in the mouths of hungry children - imporant.
Describing your trip to the dentist - not important. Telling me that the grocery store got a new style of paper bags - not that important. Your favorite TV show changed from 7pm to 8pm - ehh, not that important (deal with it!). Your gas bill is $3 more than last month - ehh, whatever.
It's about what one perceives to be important. If it's not real important, then I don't see the point of spending a lot of time talking about it.
All of that said, I should probably try harder to be a good small-talker. I'm actually not *that bad* - I can talk to anyone about anything. It's just really boring and draining sometimes.