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[Traditional Enneagram] Fives and small talk

Doctor Anaximander

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I realize that a distaste for small talk is not limited to fives, but can we discuss just how much they loathe and find small talk to be a major time and energy drain? Fives, why do you think this is? Why can you go on forever about the most obscure, esoteric topics, yet the second your coworker decides to tell you about their lawn (unless you're a five obsessed with the many varieties of grasses and/or history of lawn care tech) or the weather, your eyes glaze over and you want to kill yourselves?

People with fives in your lives (condolences), can you relate stories and experiences regarding your fives and small talk?
 

Koto

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Well for me, it's because I simply don't care. Social anxiety aside, it's just a waste of my energy to sit there and pretend to be interested in some menial topic, especially if I get the point immediately but they insist on dragging our the whole story, giving the entire life history of everyone involved as if I'm going to remember all these niche distinctions, and as if they're even relevant to the point they're making. Meanwhile, when I'm talking about something I'm interested in, there's generally a lot of room for novel discussion about it; talking about something 'funny' that happened to someone at work doesn't lend me that luxury since I can't really engage with that material, and it's even worse if it's a subject that I know little about since the painful awareness of my ignorance makes me want to just say nothing at all. I liken it to working 10 hours a day as a cashier at a fast food restaurant vs spending time doing a hobby or craft; both of these are valid forms of work in my mind but obviously nearly everyone is going to choose the latter over the former if there are no hidden caveats. Talking about things I'm interested in is like the latter option, and dragging people into the world of my interests is fun because I feel like everyone should at least be aware of these things rather than live their lives without the chance to experience life outside of their bubble, and so a lot of my time talking about these things is also spent educating people about said things rather than just talking for the sake of conversation.
 

Totenkindly

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I have learned to appreciate small talk more as I age, because raising my kids and being married and involved in some social groups taught me of its importance to other sorts. Plus, the more I had to deal with the mundane, the more input and experiences with daily things I acquired and so it became more interesting. Usually when I was young I avoided as much of the trivial as possible, so I didn't have anything to contribute to those discussions. (I am not using "mundane" and "trivial" as pejoratives here, I just mean the average little details of the day, things that happen or are said or are done without larger context.)

I think it was just the temporary-ness of such topics. In a day, in a month, in a year, it won't matter what someone had for breakfast, or the problem you had with your lawnmower, or what sale was happening at such-and-such store. Here today, gone tomorrow. I was interested in topics that persisted over time and endured, hence the big broad philosophical discussion, science, ideals, art, and so on. Big thoughts, big ideas. The problem is that they can also be very impersonal (depending), which is why they endure but also why some don't care or can't relate.

I have been trying to more integrate over the years, because it seems like sometimes the small things lead to the big things or provide a small snapshot of the big things that make them relatable. Most people operate in the details.

So I still can get bored sometimes if I talk to my mom / visit, but I also appreciate it because I am learning more about her life and she matters to me, even if it does tire me out. Also, I can attest that only focusing on the big stuff makes your world smaller, I end up not engaging people on a daily basis and thus slowly become isolated, which I don't like + it detaches me from the daily act of living and understanding humanity from the ground up.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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Well for me, it's because I simply don't care. Social anxiety aside, it's just a waste of my energy to sit there and pretend to be interested in some menial topic, especially if I get the point immediately but they insist on dragging our the whole story, giving the entire life history of everyone involved as if I'm going to remember all these niche distinctions, and as if they're even relevant to the point they're making. Meanwhile, when I'm talking about something I'm interested in, there's generally a lot of room for novel discussion about it; talking about something 'funny' that happened to someone at work doesn't lend me that luxury since I can't really engage with that material, and it's even worse if it's a subject that I know little about since the painful awareness of my ignorance makes me want to just say nothing at all. I liken it to working 10 hours a day as a cashier at a fast food restaurant vs spending time doing a hobby or craft; both of these are valid forms of work in my mind but obviously nearly everyone is going to choose the latter over the former if there are no hidden caveats. Talking about things I'm interested in is like the latter option, and dragging people into the world of my interests is fun because I feel like everyone should at least be aware of these things rather than live their lives without the chance to experience life outside of their bubble, and so a lot of my time talking about these things is also spent educating people about said things rather than just talking for the sake of conversation.

Something that annoys me as a five is when someone, usually a coworker, is telling me some story about how their food order got ruined or the trip they took to the mountains or something else, and it seems like they aren't even interested in having a dialogue so much as talking at me. Sometimes I might try to interject something, like an interesting factoid about mountains or the type of food they're talking about, or even a relatable anecdote of my own about the topic at hand, but they just kind of go "yeah yeah, but anyway, X happened and then Y happened...". So on top of them deciding to tell me a story I didn't ask to hear and which really doesn't interest me, they aren't even interested in talking with me, just at me. That really annoys me. Does that sort of thing bother you as a five?
 

Doctor Anaximander

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I have learned to appreciate small talk more as I age, because raising my kids and being married and involved in some social groups taught me of its importance to other sorts. Plus, the more I had to deal with the mundane, the more input and experiences with daily things I acquired and so it became more interesting. Usually when I was young I avoided as much of the trivial as possible, so I didn't have anything to contribute to those discussions. (I am not using "mundane" and "trivial" as pejoratives here, I just mean the average little details of the day, things that happen or are said or are done without larger context.)

I think it was just the temporary-ness of such topics. In a day, in a month, in a year, it won't matter what someone had for breakfast, or the problem you had with your lawnmower, or what sale was happening at such-and-such store. Here today, gone tomorrow. I was interested in topics that persisted over time and endured, hence the big broad philosophical discussion, science, ideals, art, and so on. Big thoughts, big ideas. The problem is that they can also be very impersonal (depending), which is why they endure but also why some don't care or can't relate.

I have been trying to more integrate over the years, because it seems like sometimes the small things lead to the big things or provide a small snapshot of the big things that make them relatable. Most people operate in the details.

So I still can get bored sometimes if I talk to my mom / visit, but I also appreciate it because I am learning more about her life and she matters to me, even if it does tire me out. Also, I can attest that only focusing on the big stuff makes your world smaller, I end up not engaging people on a daily basis and thus slowly become isolated, which I don't like + it detaches me from the daily act of living and understanding humanity from the ground up.

I can appreciate the aspect of it from an observer's standpoint. Oddly, I'm more interested in eavesdropping or observing others' small talk and conversations than I am in being an active participant. Three way small talk is preferable to one-on-one, because I can kind of take a back seat and let the other two people engage and chat while I just listen and observe. It's also easier for me to disengage or sneak away if they're really involved in their chat.
 

Totenkindly

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Something that annoys me as a five is when someone, usually a coworker, is telling me some story about how their food order got ruined or the trip they took to the mountains or something else, and it seems like they aren't even interested in having a dialogue so much as talking at me. Sometimes I might try to interject something, like an interesting factoid about mountains or the type of food they're talking about, or even a relatable anecdote of my own about the topic at hand, but they just kind of go "yeah yeah, but anyway, X happened and then Y happened...". So on top of them deciding to tell me a story I didn't ask to hear and which really doesn't interest me, they aren't even interested in talking with me, just at me. That really annoys me. Does that sort of thing bother you as a five?

Yes, and it's also why I learned to monitor when I start talking about the stuff I love, to make sure I am engaging someone else versus just gushing around. If they seem to show a lack of interest, I will cut it short and look for people who share similar interests to have an actual discussion.

I think it just more people focus on the daily details, so it can feel like you're a minority with people talking at you and expecting you to relate, without actually noticing whether you are providing thoughtful responses or enjoying the conversation. They are talking at you. It is like the expectation that when another woman brings a baby into a group or shows family pictures, I am supposed to ooh and ahh over them and ask lots of little questions about the baby. I like children and babies, but I don't usually have much interest in talking endlessly about them either. I have more to say about kids when I am sharing experiences and looking at how they learn or unique things that reveal their personalities -- but not just "OMIGERD THEY ARE A KID I AM SO GUSHY ABOUT THIS."
 

Doctor Anaximander

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Something that annoys me as a five is when someone, usually a coworker, is telling me some story about how their food order got ruined or the trip they took to the mountains or something else, and it seems like they aren't even interested in having a dialogue so much as talking at me. Sometimes I might try to interject something, like an interesting factoid about mountains or the type of food they're talking about, or even a relatable anecdote of my own about the topic at hand, but they just kind of go "yeah yeah, but anyway, X happened and then Y happened...". So on top of them deciding to tell me a story I didn't ask to hear and which really doesn't interest me, they aren't even interested in talking with me, just at me. That really annoys me. Does that sort of thing bother you as a five?

So I am quoting myself here because as I have gotten older, I realize that sometimes people just need to vent and be heard, myself included. I am learning that, although this annoys me, it doesn't necessarily mean these people are being rude or inconsiderate, just that they need to be heard. So I am trying to make myself a better passive listener. It does not come easy though.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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Yes, and it's also why I learned to monitor when I start talking about the stuff I love, to make sure I am engaging someone else versus just gushing around. If they seem to show a lack of interest, I will cut it short and look for people who share similar interests to have an actual discussion.

I think it just more people focus on the daily details, so it can feel like you're a minority with people talking at you and expecting you to relate, without actually noticing whether you are providing thoughtful responses or enjoying the conversation. They are talking at you. It is like the expectation that when another woman brings a baby into a group or shows family pictures, I am supposed to ooh and ahh over them and ask lots of little questions about the baby. I like children and babies, but I don't usually have much interest in talking endlessly about them either. I have more to say about kids when I am sharing experiences and looking at how they learn or unique things that reveal their personalities -- but not just "OMIGERD THEY ARE A KID I AM SO GUSHY ABOUT THIS."

I also have to realize that just as much as those people can annoy me, it is probably annoying to them when I decide to ramble about some topic of interest to me.

I was really bad about this when I was younger, and it's something I've been learning to temper and work on in my middle age. I know I can have real blinders in this regard, that sometimes I just get started on something without realizing that perhaps no one in the room asked to know the difference between late 17th century buccaneers and the caribbean pirates of the 1710s.
 

Koto

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Something that annoys me as a five is when someone, usually a coworker, is telling me some story about how their food order got ruined or the trip they took to the mountains or something else, and it seems like they aren't even interested in having a dialogue so much as talking at me. Sometimes I might try to interject something, like an interesting factoid about mountains or the type of food they're talking about, or even a relatable anecdote of my own about the topic at hand, but they just kind of go "yeah yeah, but anyway, X happened and then Y happened...". So on top of them deciding to tell me a story I didn't ask to hear and which really doesn't interest me, they aren't even interested in talking with me, just at me. That really annoys me. Does that sort of thing bother you as a five?
100%, it's like I'm their wall to monologue at when I didn't ask to be and gave no inclination that I would be willing to do so. Bonus points if they've told the same story before and don't even realise and yet they still insist on telling it again anyway.
 

Koto

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So I am quoting myself here because as I have gotten older, I realize that sometimes people just need to vent and be heard, myself included. I am learning that, although this annoys me, it doesn't necessarily mean these people are being rude or inconsiderate, just that they need to be heard. So I am trying to make myself a better passive listener. It does not come easy though.
This is true, but at the same time there's a line for me; it's hard to be sympathetic towards someone when they show no sympathy back, and in my eyes conversations are a two party thing, so both parties should be willing to make slight compromises here and there to ensure a decent flow of conversation, and one party simply venting to the other ruins that flow.
 

Totenkindly

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I can appreciate the aspect of it from an observer's standpoint. Oddly, I'm more interested in eavesdropping or observing others' small talk and conversations than I am in being an active participant. Three way small talk is preferable to one-on-one, because I can kind of take a back seat and let the other two people engage and chat while I just listen and observe. It's also easier for me to disengage or sneak away if they're really involved in their chat.

I totally identify with that! :)

Personally, in general, I prefer to be around people who can also initiate conversation better. I don't like to be the one on whom conversation is dependent. But yes, I get more out of the "listen and learn and think" approach, I enjoy sitting at a table and listening to the other conversations, occasionally providing input when it makes sense.

It seems pretty predictable -- Five wants to understand, five is an observer and data collector, and the work takes place internally to synthetize all the information and then provide output regarding it.

I also have to realize that just as much as those people can annoy me, it is probably annoying to them when I decide to ramble about some topic of interest to me.

:)

I was really bad about this when I was younger, and it's something I've been learning to temper and work on in my middle age. I know I can have real blinders in this regard, that sometimes I just get started on something without realizing that perhaps no one in the room asked to know the difference between late 17th century buccaneers and the caribbean pirates of the 1710s.

I don't really know the difference, but it sounds interesting enough to listen to for about ten minutes because hey of course I can use that knowledge on a daily basis, lol.
 

Totenkindly

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This is true, but at the same time there's a line for me; it's hard to be sympathetic towards someone when they show no sympathy back, and in my eyes conversations are a two party thing, so both parties should be willing to make slight compromises here and there to ensure a decent flow of conversation, and one party simply venting to the other ruins that flow.

Yeah, I think in the long run there needs to be some reciprocity. (Every relationship needs reciprocity if is going to last or be helpful to both people.)

I typically am willing to invest a bit up front, because someone might need a listening ear or be in a different place, but if the imbalance continues, I start to avoid such people because they are a drain. I guess if it is an important relationship, then I'd be willing to broach the topic with them in hopes of rebalancing the relationship, but typically I just end up avoiding if a hard conversation is not justifiable.

I will also take the tit-for-tat approach -- if they bore me too long, I'll throw out things I am interested in to see if they will follow-up (or just to inflict boredom in return, on a limited basis). But if it doesn't change things, then extraction is necessary.
 
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