I Hate Small Talk

Why Introverts Can't Deal With Making Small Talk

Introverts interact in different ways with people. Dougal Waters/Getty Images

Have you ever caught yourself saying, "I hate small talk!" the minute you walk into a party? If so, you might be an introvert. Introverts notoriously hate to chat about "small" subjects with people, which can hurt their chances of making new friends. 

If your friend is an introvert, you may have noticed that they are fine when you talk one on one but seem to get lost in the crowd when there's a group around. But having the ability to make small talk is key to making friends, because it helps get you from general topics to those you have in common with someone else. 

If you're talking to an introvert, you might find that your first few conversations go one of two ways. Either they'll seem to get bored and not say much or they'll seem to skate over small talk in favor of more in-depth topics. This is especially true if its just you and your introverted pal having a conversation over coffee, for instance. 

What you need to know in this instance is that the introvert is not being rude (even if they seem a little bored with the small talk you're making) and it's not that they aren't interested in getting to know you. It's just that in general, introverts don't like small talk. Here's why.

Introverts Enjoy Engaging Conversation That Really Helps Get to the Heart of a What a Person Is About and Makes Them Think

Small talk serves as a gateway toward deeper conversation. After all, you can't just walk up to someone new and ask them what they're biggest regret is and why, but you can ask them how they know the hostess. The former would be consider rude in mixed company and the latter is small talk.

Some (and we're generalizing here) introverts don't realize that small talk will actually help them get to the bigger topics. You don't need to stay on small talk forever. However, sometimes introverts feel that even the short amount of time it takes to get into real conversation is a waste of time.

Introverts Like to Think Before Responding

Small talk is fairly fast. Someone says something like, "John really did a great job on the party this year. Have you been to this event in the past?" This should be followed up with a quick response (such as "Yes I have" or "No, it's my first time.")

But introverts like to chew on their words before saying them aloud. They'll think about that question a bit, and other things will pop into their mind, like "I wonder how they know John," or even "Why would they care if I've been to other parties?" Before they answer, they'll mull over different thoughts.

This silence, although very short, can unnerve people if you're not used to it. Instead of waiting for a response, some people will just go ahead and ask or say something else. The introvert, who was probably just about to answer the question, now has to abandon their line of thinking and follow the next thread that is being put out there. They might feel like all these questions are too quick and meaningless, and as a result they'll skip small talk altogether.

Introverts Enjoy Deep, One-On-One Conversation

If you get too many people involved in a conversation, it becomes muddled with people talking over each other and sharing their thoughts, often without listening fully to what everyone is saying.

Small talk by its very nature invites more people to join in. The more the merrier might be a great philosophy for parties, but it isn't good for conversation with introverts. The more people who join the conversation, the more the introvert will tend to step back and take it all in. As a result, they'll be quiet, and people will assume they aren't interested in engaging.

Introverts Listen More Than They Talk

Small talk is about tossing out subjects in the hopes that one or more of them can be turned into a common point of interest. The way this is done best is one person says something, another answers quickly and adds something themselves. The listening involved with small talk is not in-depth. It can't be. The purpose is about listening "lightly" so you can figure out the right topics to spend some time on.

Introverts tend to be great listeners, but they use active listening rather than light listening. This makes them wonderful friends, but can also make it difficult for new people to understand why they're so quiet.

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