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I suppose small talk can be defined as polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters.

Up to quite recently I've never had much difficulty with small talk. However, I am now living in a community of four or five and find it increasingly more difficult. There are often long silences while together. As somewhat of an extrovert I find this painful. There is often so very little reponse. Is it that what I'm saying is boring, or  awkward, so they let it pass. Or, worse still, when I try to make conversation by casually referring to some local event or person or the weather, I find that they already know more about it than I do but will not take the initiative and open the conversation themselves. Or if one says something like "There were about 100 people present at the meeting this evening." they'll come up with "No, there were actually only 95 there".  One almost has to do reseach before one makes any casual statement at all!

Why does chit-chat often have to be so painful? If you have to relentlessly pepper the other people with questions it sounds like an interrogation. Is chit-chat an art that can be somehow learned? The silences are obviously coming from the individuals and not from the situation. Indeed one could ask if small talk really serves any purpose, or would it be better to remain glumly silent? What if a group of four or five sit at a meal for long stretches without a word?

Women seem to be much better at small talk than men, and I envy teenagers who can talk for ages on their social networks.


And I thought you Irish folks had a reputation for loquacity! :o)

While as a Quaker, I know the value of silence, I know what you mean and I do find it much easier to chat to the women I know rather than the men.
I do love to talk and Midlands folks are much more chatty than down in the southeast.

That 'strong silent' trope has a lot to answer for!
WEll, not *all* women are better at it! I'm certainly not. If the other person is good at it, I can chatter away with them, holding up my end of the conversation, but if they're another introvert, forget it. It's going to be silent city.

As far as sitting silently at meal time, that might not be such a horror. People might be concentrating on savoring their food. Sitting in companionable silence can be as inclusive as chatting together.

And the guy who says 'No, there were only 95'? He's a know it all.
If a small group gathers on a regular basis, often there is no real need for small talk. Personally, I enjoy silence and have spent many meals with my nose in a book while my hubby does the crossword puzzle across from me.

- Erulisse (one L)
I'm sorry it's painful for you. It sounds like the other members of your community may be introverts.

As an introvert myself, I'm fine with companionable silence. But I recognize that silence may be uncomfortable for extraverts.
i'm with you!
i don't consider myself an extrovert but i like to talk
(does that make me a secret extrovert?)
in my experience women do have an easier time - we share the reality of our bodies

in our household we feel a responsibility to bring something to talk about to the meal - but that is a shared responsibility

not much help for you
would asking about memories get them talking?
people like to share their stories
women often share their stories - one woman starts and soon everyone has a story to share

what do you all have in common that can be a starting place?
are you more involved and interested in the world around you than they are?
you seem to be very involved with the contemporary world - does that put them off?
are they scared they can't keep up with you?
you may have to put up with their limited and pedestrian interests to get something started