Whether at a gas station, before/after class, or at a restaurant, I often spark small talk with strangers. Or at least, I attempt to. You can generally tell within .02 seconds whether someone is either against or too overzealous about small talk, which quiets me up pretty quickly. Here are the ones to watch:
Small talkers to avoid…
- the ones who have their heads up and then suddenly finds their shoes extremely fascinating when you come within 50 feet of them.
- the ones who when you ask “How are you?”, they simply respond “Good” (without a polite “How about you?”), nix the chatter. Didn’t their moms teach them manners?
- the ones who give you the initial go-ahead—they’ve actually smiled and asked how you were as well—but then whom you ask their name, hometown, job, major, siblings, fears/likes/dislikes and they have yet to ask you a single question back. Quit the conversation before you either A.) Ask them something way out-of-bounds (questions about their sex life are never okay for an initial convo) or, even worse, B.) Reveal something entirely too intimate about yourself because you’ve already asked every question you can possibly think of. If they don’t care to know your name, they really won’t care that your ex-boyfriend dumped you for your best friend.
And then there are the small talkers to really avoid…
- the ones that stare way too intensely at your eyes when talking to you, and then proceed to shift their eyes to a much more awkward area.
- the ones that ask you way too many questions. Unless it was (mutually) love at first sight in Aisle 5, it’s not okay to ask a new acquaintance whether you’re single and ready to mingle.
- the one that high fives you continually while chatting. For no apparent reason. Yes, this has actually happened to me.
Yet despite these impolite or overly eager small talkers, small talking has its perks. In fact, today small talk saved me some cash. I always talk to the produce guy at my favorite DSM grocery store. And today, the small talk was beneficial. We were chatting about mushrooms—I asked whether you can freeze them so they don’t go bad—and then he volunteered to personally package a half-order for me. This may not be extremely atypical, but it definitely saved me a few dollars. Without our small talk, I would have had to deal with more moldy mushrooms. So I saved $3 or so there. Then, as I was leaving, he handed me a free, large (and might I say, coming from this store, expensive) green tomato that he said another customer had accidentally left behind.
I probably saved $6 thanks to good old small talk. Which, let’s be honest, I ending up spending on a variety of items that I purchased grocery shopping that weren’t on my list.