I have never enjoyed verbal means of communication very much since I am a creature of the written word. Composing sentences, choosing words and building a paragraph are actions I thoroughly enjoy and like to take my time with. So, I have always preferred making notes versus joining a discussion, texting versus calling, and writing versus speaking.
I feel comfortable speaking publicly, in smaller and larger groups, but the pace does not suit my preferences, as well as the amount of attention the individual arguments are given. A spoken sentence lingers in the air for seconds; written words can be savored for days, and repeatedly appreciated for a very long time.
Furthermore, having an in-depth conversation and speaking about an interesting topic, be it in the written or the oral way is a preference of mine. I don’t like or seek small talk.
Or do I?
It’s actully interesting how small talk can be beneficial for a human. I started writing this essay wanting to bash small talk by all means but somehow it seems to be significant to have some sort of communication just for the sake of communication. For a lone wolf like me, there are other pragmatical pros to small talk in the workplace:
1) Building a connection with someone who might be useful later. Being interested in someone’s private life and maintaining a positive attitude towards them is vital if you might need a favor later on.
2) Gathering and possessing information. It’s always good to know what’s going on in others’ lives as you can be of emotional assistance to them to further bond them emotionally and take advantage of that later.
3) Being sociable makes you more valuable. Usually a workplace environment is based upon a team and herd mentality which means that remaining social with others and making it look like those connections are valuable to you is seen as the only right way of fitting in.
4) Being unsociable makes you undesirable. If you don’t seek and maintain aforementioned connections the herd will start looking for faults because it is not acceptable or understandable if someone does not fit the norm. So just for the fear of that, you might consider joining that office chatter for the time being.
5) Being a part of the group gives you the possibility to better the quality of the conversation. Rarely, once in a blue moon, this works. Keep on tryin’.
Other than a workplace environment however still I don’t see the need for smalltalk in my life. I’d rather sit by myself and read a book.
On a side note, I do enjoy other forms of entertainment without an intellectual value. So, maybe, does enjoying hours of lighthearted content on YouTube indicate a missing amount of nonsignificant human connections in my life? Probably not since I am not expected to communicate back and this position of comfort is rather soothing.
Having those handful of friends for in-depth conversation is also the result of a process, but none of those connections have come from indulging in small talk. It is either the fact that the other person also manages to start a real conversation from the get-go, or that I already know them to have similar interests and can build upon that right away. With that handful, a face-to-face conversation can be an amazing experience.
Moving on in life, the handful and the chance for significant conversation are cut time and time again. Distance is a great filter, since humans are creatures of convenience. Move away from a location where they regularly reach you in their daily routine and notice how keeping apointments or even making suggestions will become your initiative more and more. Emotional connections have to have intellectual value as well – otherwise they become redundant.
Now, I am somebody with a full calendar who loves to make space for their friends if quality time is desired by both parties. However, when agreeing on seeing each other soon again remains on the level of small talk in the sense of being socially nice and likeable, I refuse to conform to that. I thrive on discussing controversial topics and not agreeing with people but talking it out. I want to surround myself with likeminded people.
In conclusion, the work place is the only small talk infested area I agree to cohabit with other humans who are emotionally and intellectually insignificant for me. Other than that I choose to restrict myself to substantial human connections only. If that decision leaves me a lone wolf, so be it.
That just leaves me with more time to update my #bookstagram.
(Photo from here)