MY STRUGGLE WITH SMALL TALK

Do you find it hard to partake in small talk? Does it make you feel anxious? Or do you have the gift of the gab?

There are so many factors required to have a successful conversation with another person.

  • Using exact words to effectively express your thoughts
  • Understanding body language and its nuances
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Finding a balance between listening and speaking
  • Showing an interest in the person and what they have to say
  • Offering interesting topic threads
  • Remembering to relax
  • Smile

If you suffer from social anxiety, being thrust into situations where you must engage in conversation can be scary. It might feel easier to avoid it altogether.

So why do I force myself to engage in conversation?

I recognise that to communicate and engage with others means social interaction. It means forging new relationships and strengthening others. It means developing my sense of self and belonging.

Ultimately, I don’t want my life to be consumed by my anxiety. I won’t allow it to tear me down. Therefore, I must engage.


Butcher: “Hello there!”

Me: “Hi.”

Butcher: “How can I help? What would you like?”

Oh my God, I don’t know. Sh?t, I better hurry! Sh?t, how do you say that word ’enchiladas’?

Me: “Um. Six en-chill-a-dars please?”

Butcher: “My wife just took one of these last night and upped to Mildura.”

What? What did he just say? Am I supposed to reply? I just want to tick dinner off my list.

Me: “Oh. That’s a long way.”

Butcher: “She loves them. Drove after work last night and got there this morning.”

Okay, I think I’m supposed to say something here. Fudge if I know. Why is he telling me this? Breathe. Relax. You can do this. It’s just a conversation. Be normal.

Me: “Yeah, she must love them to drive that far.”

Did he mean she loves enchiladas? Is six enough for dinner?

Butcher: “My daughter lives up there and had her baby last night.”

How long does it take to wrap these enchiladas?! I can feel my anxiety levels rising. This conversation is hurting my mind. New baby. Ok, so remember to congratulate him.

Me: “My husband loves your enchiladas.”

Butcher: “Thanks. My wife’s already saying she wants to come back.”

You seem like a really nice dude and I’m really glad you’re chatting to me but I suck at this and I feel awkward. Please have mercy on me!

Me: “My husband loves your enchiladas.”

Fudge! That’s not what I meant to say. I forgot the congratulations.

Butcher: “Uh, thanks?”

Me: “Um, congratulations?”

Oh my gosh! He did say his daughter, right? He looks young. I hope I haven’t misheard. This conversation is going downhill. Abort! Abort!

Butcher: “It’s my third grandkid. Here you are.”

Oh thank goodness.

Me: “Thanks. Have a great day.”

I need to get out of here.

Butcher: “You haven’t paid yet.”

Me: “You too. I mean, sorry I haven’t.”

Did I just say that? How embarrassing! I hope the next butcher isn’t as talkative.


Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

THE SILVER LINING OF BEING AWKWARD

Humans are social creatures. It’s important for us to feel a sense of belonging. This fundamental need drives us to seek company; to form meaningful relationships with others; to engage in conversation. Essentially, we seek to make a human connection. A disconnect can lead to social isolation, loneliness and depression.

I struggled with my sense of identity and belonging throughout childhood and early adulthood. I was an extremely introverted child and shied away from people. I wasn’t able to effectively communicate and therefore, I found it difficult to make friends.

As a grown-ass adult, conversation still doesn’t come easily for me. Unfortunately, I’m also awkward as f#@k. Random sh!t just comes out of my pie hole. On the outside, I might look aloof and confident but on the inside, I’m a jumbled mess of insecurities that could rival that of a fifteen-year-old teenager. My six-year-old daughter has more pizzazz and social skills than I do. It’s really embarrassing. Luckily my friends accept me for who I am, flaws and all.

Recently, I met a mother of a child in the same swimming class as my daughter.


“Hello,” I said to the woman sitting next to me.

She gave me a welcoming smile and asked, “Which one is your child?”

“Oh Mandy,” I replied, pointing at the rambunctious girl doing cannonballs into the pool and getting told off. I rolled my eyes. She had a few minutes until class started and still managed to get into trouble.

“You’ve got a lively one there,” she laughed.

I giggled. “You don’t know the half of it!” Mandy’s a Little Miss Independent.

Lisa, the woman, was a talker. This suited me just fine as it prevented me from any outbreaks of verbal diarrhoea.

“Breanna does choir, ballet and swimming on Saturdays. She does Japanese, tennis and piano during the school week.”

“Oh Mandy does piano,” I threw in. It had been a while since I contributed to the conversation and I didn’t want to look disinterested.

“Yes, piano is so good for the brain. Breanna has done it for a few years now. She’s excelling at the moment. Did you know that music makes children smarter? I’ve listened to classical music since Breanna was in my tummy.”

Lisa rambled on and on. I don’t think she had paused since we started talking. How did she do that? She must have huge lung capacity.

I gave a noncommittal grunt as I watched Mandy attempt breast stroke. I was so proud that she was giving it a go.

“And of course, I had to speak to her teacher about the girl not inviting Breanna to her party. It’s just not acceptable in this day and age.”

I realised I had zoned out. I tried refocusing on what Lisa was saying.

Does she realise she’s monopolising the conversation? Is she a nervous chatterer? Is it possible that someone is more socially inept than me?

Our girls hopped out of the pool and rushed over to get dried. Lisa was still talking. I heard ‘coffee’, ‘next time’ and ‘see you’. My brain connected some imaginary dots.

“Yeah, I’d love to,” I replied, absent-mindedly stuffing Mandy’s things into her swim bag.

Lisa shot me a wary expression and left.

“Mum, why did you say you’d love to when she said ‘see you’?” Mandy asked me with a look of confusion.

“Lisa asked me to go for a coffee next time she sees me,” I said, a little uncertain.

“No she didn’t.” Mandy scrunched her brow. “She said she needed a coffee next time, and she said see you.”

“Oh.” That explained the weird look then.


Yes, I’m socially awkward. Yes, I say random things. Silver linings people. I’m pretty awesome at listening… most of the time.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

OPPOSITES ATTRACT

My husband accused me of being a pop culture fluff ball today. Why? We were having an intense discussion about why people are attracted to those that are fundamentally different to them.

You see, my husband and I grew up in very different households with ethnicity, culture, socioeconomics, religion and parental life experiences, impacting on our cognitive and behavioural development.

In my view, he had a fortunate and stable upbringing. He lived in the family home for most of his childhood, made life-long school friends, given opportunities to participate in extra-curricular sports and had few disadvantages.

My upbringing was decidedly different. My parents were refugees and that in itself brought a vast number of issues. I didn’t stay at any school (bar my last few senior years) for longer than two years. Both my parents had undiagnosed mental health issues. We were dirt poor most of the time.

My husband is a logical, pragmatic and heavily systems thinking based person. Emotion is the last variable in his decision-making. His objective to any problem is finding the simplest solution that makes the biggest impact.

While my decision-making is often driven by emotion. This is not to say that I don’t have capabilities. I can hold down a high-pressure and high-level job. I can run a household. I am capable of making good decisions. But compared to my husband, I don’t like to face variables and I tend to veer towards confirmation bias.

If a stranger came up to me and asked me to peel an orange, my immediate response would be… why? Whereas, my husband would think… what’s the best and worst thing, that could happen? And peel the damn orange.

We agreed that the diversity of thinking or lack of was attributed to our differences – our tapestry of life experiences, leading to the software and hard wiring in our brains.

My argument was that given the same upbringing, my husband would not have the same decision-making abilities. He might even be a bit more like me. 

Nope. No way. My husband was adamant that given the same upbringing, he would still be who he is. He would still be the observant, boundary-pushing, thought-provoking and forward-thinking person.

His counter-argument was that while our childhood experience had some influence, the main reason for his diversity of thinking was due to his open-mindedness to challenging assumptions and expectations. Particularly those of people in positions of authority and power – like his parents and teachers.

It’s really no wonder that he had so many school detentions and reprimands. It’s also not surprising that our offspring are cheeky buggers, full of sass and curiosity.

Anyway, we debated many points and in end, I was as befuddled as this post. Back to my original point. Why are people attracted to their opposites?

My husband’s answer? It’s because of our chimp brains and natural selection.

My answer? Because of my husband’s definition of diversity of thought, I have no option but to love pop culture.

Copyright © 2020, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/