Busy! Busy! Busy! — Or, Why I Hate Small Talk

How are you-I like to pretend that I’m good at small talk. That I can play the extrovert and chit chat. Truth? I hate, hate, hate small talk. I don’t know what to say. Things get awkward. I end up looking like a fool. Or at least feeling like one. Then, for a week or more after the exchange, my neurotic self rehashes every single word, agonizing over how very icky the small talk went.

For instance, when someone asks how I am, I struggle to answer. No, really. That’s a very difficult question for someone like me. Do I say that I’m “good” and risk offending the Grammar Police? Do I say that I’m “well” and risk seeming snooty? If I’m having a crappy day, do I over-share that information? Do I talk about all the cool stuff that’s going on (because I really do have a lot of cool stuff going on) and risk being braggy?

Neurotic triggers flashing, I usually answer the “How are you” by default.

I say, “Good. Busy.”

I am not kidding. Even if that day was full of nothing but eating chips and watching Netflix (which never happens…no…never), I still say, “Good. Busy.”

What the hee haw.

I’m not busy. I mean, I’ve got projects for days and kids who need snuggles and food and a husband who needs adoring…but I’m not busy.

The dude that drives 90 on the highway while texting and on a conference call is probably busier than I am. The mom with a couple toddlers is busier (I know because I was her for awhile). You reading this right now – yeah, you – I bet you’re way busier than I am.

So why do I say that I’m busy? Because I think that’s what’s expected.

But it’s not always a good answer…unless of course I’m in a big rush, then it’s not as offensive as saying, “I don’t have time to talk to you!”.

Can I just tell you how I am? From the safety of my little desk on the other side of the internet.

I’m happy.

Not busy.

Happy.

It won’t always be that way. I’ll have moments and days when happy isn’t the right word. But, that’s how I am right this very moment.

It’s true.

So. How are you today?

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14 thoughts on “Busy! Busy! Busy! — Or, Why I Hate Small Talk

  1. I’m good – and with a full schedule (cuz that is ABSOLUTELY true) – today, anyway.

    It also depends on who is asking (I imagine it is with you too). That is probably the face to face answer I would give ya if we met in the halls of school – but I am guessing you wouldn’t ask LOL. When I’m asked by a store employee (unless we have “a relationship), “fine” or “cold” or “wet” works (depending on the weather).

    Small talk IS hard, isn’t it? Great post.

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  2. I don’t necessarily hate “small talk”, but I don’t like that question, “How are you?” Mostly because people expect the answer “okay” and aren’t really listening to your answer much anyways. And answering “okay” feels like a lie. So I deflect the question with a shrug and turn it back on the other person and ask how they are doing. Now, if I actually ask that question, it is because I DO want to hear and know the answer (otherwise I’m more likely to shrug and say sometimes like “well, I have to get moving”). But for the most part, yeah, people are tuned into hearing the work “okay” and to get beyond that “okay”, I find that sometimes I will ask a second time and tell the person that yes – I really want to know. Good or bad or crappy.

    So, Susie, how ARE you?

    Susie, how ARE you, really?

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  3. I hate small talk because I over-talk and then people think I’m crazy. Like yesterday when I went in to pay our ex-tenant’s overdue water bill, and I had a sudden need for the clerks in City Hall to like me, and I just used far too many words.

    When will I learn to smile and listen? Or at least be comfortable with the silence? When I’m dead?

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  4. I am doing well today. Thank you for asking. 😀 Today is my “Day off,” so it means I have written at least 2,000 words so far.

    Let me add, as an extrovert, one has been accused on more than one occasion of being verbose, everyone is bad at small talk. Some people have gotten more used to it, or can play their mistakes off as intentional, but we all go home at the end of the day and want to fix our conversational mistakes.

    I know it happens to me all the time. I just have to get over it a little quicker because I need to interact with more people in order to feel productive. 😀

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  5. I am overwhelmed by life right now, and if we had the time to discuss it, we’d need to be seated at a table with a seven-course meal to cover all the details.

    I judge each opportunity for real talk by the circumstance in which the “How are you?” is offered. If it is offered in haste over a handshake or backslap as someone is moving in the opposite direction, there is no need to request an extensive interview. If it is offered quietly in a tone of honest concern, I release the floodgates and give up my afternoon plans. Most of the time it is somewhere in-between, and it takes several more tentative comments to discern the intentions of the other participant.

    I don’t mind small-talk, but I most assuredly treasure the deep caverns of true conversation!

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  6. I like that… “happy.” I think I’ll try to use that as my response the next time someone asks me how I’m doing. Because I really am. Because of Jesus. Thank You, Lord :).

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