Small talk is hard! But few people realize that the key to taking on a casual conversation successfully is to not collapse and die due to the crippling anxiety of existence. Here are some clever small-talk techniques to utilize as you ignore the soul-deadening, waking nightmare that is life.
Think of something–anything–you have in common.
Shared experiences are a great way to bond with a person who’s essentially a stranger. In a way, aren’t we really all strangers in this lifetime? Try to relate to this interloper by repeating things you read on the internet, while simultaneously pushing that constant feeling of terror back down into your gut. Do your best to stay up on recent events to share. Otherwise past events, like how the earth was formed and why we were born as homo sapiens, won’t overwhelm you into silently staring at the wall. Or, try a funny joke!
Have a go-to joke.
Humor is great to incorporate into social interactions and to create an atmosphere of casual fun. Having one go-to joke is an easy way to distract yourself from the fact that life can have no purpose, because “purpose” is a concept created by human brains, and not a universal reality. Yikes! Don’t worry about that; just keep talking whenever the other person isn’t talking.
Now that you’ve established that you have a great joke, let your convo partner know that they, too, are hilarious. This is “having fun.” Laugh at the end of all their sentences, no matter what they say. The heartier your laugh, the more clear it will be that you are thoroughly enjoying the conversation. If you laugh hard enough, maybe you can stop yourself from slipping rapidly into existential psychosis.
Communicate using body language.
They say communication is largely non-verbal, so make sure that whatever is coming out of your mouth is also communicated by your body. Bug your eyes out to convey a “wow”-type emotion, even if you’re not amazed by what they have said at all. Do as many other body gestures as you can to make it clear to this person that talking to them doesn’t make you consider the hopelessness of the human condition and how one day your body will just rot into dust. Then maybe ask if they need a refill on their soda.
Yes, small talk is a tragic experience that remains an obligatory part of our social structure, but try not to cry about it. This is a sure giveaway that you’re considering if walking into traffic right now would make any difference to the universe at all. Or, since you’re probably going to silent-cry anyway, at least wait until the person is a few feet away. Smooth the transition by introducing them to a friend of yours.
Next time you’re at a social gathering you didn’t want to be at in the first place, try these smart small-talk tips. Small talk will still remind you that life is a total nightmare, but at least you’ll be good at it!