I think many people have some off-track ideas about conversation and how it’s supposed to be done, which sabotage their social interactions and social life.
Based on my social and coaching experience, I’d like to debunk 4 such common conversation myths, then underline an important truth, and hopefully help you gain a better understanding of both yourself and the subtle art of conversation. Let’s start with the 4 myths.
Myth 1: Conversation Means Just Small Talk
Small talk – like chatting about the weather or how good the coffee you’re having is – is a frequently present part of conversation. But that’s not what conversation is all about. Ideally, small talk should only be one component of a conversation.
Small talk is a great way to break the ice with somebody, to ease your way into a conversation. It’s also something that’s good to have sprinkled all throughout a conversation. But a good conversation is not just small talk. On the contrary, it involves discussing meaningful and highly engaging topics at least as much.
It is true that some people tend to just stick to small talk, but they are not the example to follow. These people are generally uncomfortable with deeper conversation because they fear it will expose their shortcomings or turn into some sort of argument. However, the best conversationalists combine small talk with deeper conversation. They’re the right model.
Myth 2: Small Talk Is a Waste of Time
So small talk is a part of conversation though. However, simply because it’s about banal topics does not make it worthless.
I find that people who don’t get the point of small talk are typically not seeing one important aspect of conversation. For them a discussion is strictly about learning something or being intellectually stimulated; and small talk does little in that sense.
However, conversation is also a form of social play. When conversation is play, the topic is not very important. It’s the vibe going on between the two or more people discussing that matters. I can talk with someone about cheese nips and have a satisfying conversation. Because the emotional exchange is the important part, not the informational exchange.
If you’re not used to seeing and making conversation as a form of social play, it’s time you begin trying to do so. You’re missing out on an amazing experience if you don’t.
Myth 3: Conversation Means Being Fake
Ammm, no! Sure, some people are mostly fake during conversation, pretending to like things they don’t, to be someone they’re not, in order to please whomever they’re talking to. But not everybody is like that, and again, such folks are not the example to follow.
Because conversation is not about trying to please others. It’s about seeking a mutually rewarding interaction with somebody. And if you can’t have that kind of an interaction with a person, that’s fine too. It’s okay to just drop it.
If you have to be fake for somebody to enjoy your company, it’s usually not worth it for you, so you shouldn’t try to make conversation that way.
I often help my coaching clients develop a more genuine and articulate style of conversation. Throughout this process, they constantly discover how enjoyable it is when you’re being real with others, and how it truly pays off.
Myth 4: People Are Too Stupid To Talk To
I hear a lot of men and women complain about how others are idiots, they have nothing interesting to say, and all they talk about is movies, TV, or celebrity gossip.
I’d definitely love it for more people to have more exciting lives and be more interesting to talk to. But at the same time, I do find lots of smart and fascinating people. In fact my social circle is full of them.
But you have to talk to a lot of people and interact with some of the less interesting people as well to discover who the more interesting ones are. And many times an apparently dim and dull person ends up being quite intelligent and intriguing once you get a chance to truly know them.
So not all people are stupid or boring; and some people being less than what you’d like them to be is not an excuse for avoiding social interaction.
This leads me to my final point, relating to one question:
Why Do Many People Buy Into These 4 Myths?
Why is it that many folks believe this baloney about making conversation?
Part of it has to do with a lack of social experience, which creates a lack of true understanding of conversation, which leaves plenty of room for false ideas to come in. And there are many sources for such ideas out there.
Many people’s ideas about talking to others come from a combination of movies, cheesy self-help articles and guidance from socially awkward friends. And they’re just very off.
There is a deeper aspect to this issue though. Working regularly with people with less than fulfilling social relationships, I often find that they use ideas such as the 4 myths above as excuses to avoid social interaction and justify their paltry social lives.
But the real reason they avoid social interaction is because they find interacting with others nerve-racking. They are shy or socially anxious, and conversing with others is not easy for them. So they avoid it. The 4 myths come afterwards as rationalizations, or backfiring attempts to comfort themselves by making themselves seem superior to others for not being as sociable.
If this is you, it’s crucial for you to understand that, with some proper guidance, you can overcome your social insecurities and you don’t have to let them paralyze you. But you’ve got to take responsibility for your life and stop making excuses for avoiding social situations.
Instead of making excuses, you gotta admit that you wanna have a better social life, and then focus on working to develop the social confidence & skills that will allow you to do it.
And I can help you with that. The first thing I suggest you do is check out this practical presentation, in which I’ll show you my highly-optimized method for developing social confidence, used over the past 5+ years by hundreds of people I’ve coached. You’ll learn a lot from it.
Also, join my free social confidence newsletter for more practical advice from me for improving your confidence and conversation skills.
Truth be told, no loner is genuinely pleased with being a loner. Life isn’t only about socializing, but social relationships are a very important component of life, and a huge predictor of life satisfaction. It’s worth taking care of this aspect of your life.
You can do it! The ball is in your court.