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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    Short story short, I presently find myself in a job position where I am approached with small talk on a reasonably regular basis. I don't want these people to think that I dislike them or that I'm (here it comes) an arrogant prick, but I feel so ridiculously insincere when I try to participate in small talk. Does anybody have some Small Talk Coping Techniques they'd be willing to share?
    The great thing about small talk is that it's not important enough to warrant sincerity or insincerity. Weather, sports, clothes, local news, gardening, vacation spots... The whole point is that you don't get deep enough to touch on anything that requires sincerity.

    If you're not interested in the topic, but the other person seems to be, just smile and be honest and give them a chance to talk: "I've never seen how that could interest anyone. What do you enjoy about it?" Appropriate small talk is more about a friendly attitude than substance.

  2. #12
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    Okay, I'm an NF, so my opinion here is unrequested. However, in my experience talking about sports tends to be the best received form of small-talk (with men). This has obvious drawbacks. If you don't know anything about the sport you are attempting to talk about you'll end up looking like a pillock. Plus, the person you're talking with may have no interest in your chosen sport. However, you may be fortunate enough to live in a country/state where there is only one major sport, as I do. In which case it's a pretty safe and customary gambit, and the research required is minimal.

  3. #13
    Senior Member Nighthawk's Avatar
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    Alcohol usually helps me a lot with small talk ... although I do not recommend it in the work setting

    I just nod a lot and reaffirm what they have told me.

  4. #14
    Pareo cattus Natrushka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by faith View Post
    The great thing about small talk is that it's not important enough to warrant sincerity or insincerity.
    This is what I've had to learn and ultimately fight my nature over. If it's not important why bother? That's what it came down to for me for a long, long time. Probably why the word "anti social" was often applied

    This signature left intentionally blank.

    Really.

  5. #15
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Steps to Mastering Small Talk:

    1. Identify your Small Talk Skills Person to emulate. This is someone whom you respect but still manages to pull off the Small Talk Conversation with ease. As an NT, this will likely be an NF. Probably an ENF.
    2. Spend time watching what they do.
    3. Spend time thinking about what they do.
    4. Perform, using your information that you have gathered, structured, and integrated into your working interaction system. You will be awesome. Just Perform like the Small Talk Skills Person, with your own NT minor flair to it.

    Things to remember:
    *Don't say anything offensive
    *Don't bring up topics where people feel very personally about (war, politics, religion, pro-life/choice, etc.)
    *Smile
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natrushka View Post
    This is what I've had to learn and ultimately fight my nature over. If it's not important why bother? That's what it came down to for me for a long, long time. Probably why the word "anti social" was often applied
    The substance isn't important, but the action is.

  7. #17
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    I'd go with the "nod your head and smile" type of advice suggested. It isn't too hard, you just have to appear interested and occasionally throw something in. (Or maybe it takes more work, I don't actually have to rely on small talk that much. However, it seems to work fine in general for me.)

  8. #18
    Senior Member Tayshaun's Avatar
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    In some situations, small talk inexorably leads towards a certain amount of acting and feeling self-conscious when curiosity is not kindled. It's a great way to break the ice and train your communication skills.

    Small talk is much easier to deal with than gossip. NTs probably engage in as much small talk as other temperaments. How was your day at work? How are you feeling? The weather was splendid today, rain is forecast for tomorrow. Did you watch the show last night? Paula and Jim are getting married, etc. It is inevitable, and it goes hand in hand with living with others. All conversation cannot be on a "higher" plane. Small talk is the glue of society in a way.

    The real challenge is dealing with gossip.

    A great obstacle, whether I find myself in a situation of small talk about topics I find no interest in or any gossip, is to suppress the temptation of "pygmalionazing" - inviting the interlocutor to look at the big picture and to put into perspective elements whose superficial subtleties are strongly emphasized. In the case of gossip, I am often tempted to alleviate accusations and play devil's advocate by telling the chatterer to - here again - put things into perspective and respect the victim's individuality. Needless to say, this is annihilating the purpose of gossip and the original intention of the gossiper (stronger complicity, proximity) is ruined.

    Advice for small talk: use your knowledge about a wide variety of topics and make the conversation very interesting by teaching the interlocutor new things, giving him insight. To avoid getting bored out of your mind, you can use your intuition to predict outcomes and you can for example add the data to your personality interaction possibility database.

    I would really like to know some gossip coping techniques though...

  9. #19
    Senior Member darlets's Avatar
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    My only advice is to identify your goal early.

    Do you want to talk to this person? (Is it a random person on the street? What setting am I in? Can you achieve something positive by talking to them?)
    Do you have time to talk to this person?


    If the answer is yes to both then try and turn the small talk into a conversation. Be active and steer the conversation towards something of mutual interest. If the person insists on talking about something banal or/and boring then in future they'll probably get a No to the first question (Do I want to talk to this person?)
    Conversation is a two way street both parties have to pay attention to whether they are boring the other one s@#$less. The talker has a duty of care to try and present stuff in a interesting fashion, this holds true to you and the person you're chatting to.

    I find small talk alot easier when I see it as a tool, either to extract myself gracefully from a conversation I don't want to be in or to stir the conversation towards something of mutual interest.

    You can be polite and assertive. Especially at work because you have a very good excuse to end the conversation, that being WORK.

    This has the added benefit of helping filter potential friends.

    I've had alot of wonderful and interesting conversation with people that started as small talk but got onto and interesting topic in a hurry. I was suprised how willing alot of people are to talk about something other than small talk.

    "If you keep doing what you did, you'll keep getting what you got"
    "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
    Bertrand Russell

    http://rayofsolar.blogspot.com/
    http://zeropointseven.blogspot.com/

  10. #20
    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natrushka View Post
    Around my house "that's interesting' has become code word for " *&%$ off". </tangent>
    Ditto. I was raised by a family of introverts, and all of the typical small-talk terms were euphanisms for things like "piss off", "I don't really care" and "can't you see I'm busy?" That's why I have a hard time saying them without feeling like a jerk of the fat variety.

    Something that further complicates small-talk for me is maintaining the balance: being friendly enough to avoid being disliked, but not so much so that people start to think we're becoming friends. I believe VERY strongly in keeping personal life and the workplace in their separate containers.

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