As an introverted autistic person, I was bound to hate small talk. I do not think research is needed to show that many people like me hate to engage in it. Many people seem to have small talk regularly whilst others can just about manage it. Me though? I absolutely cannot stand it and here is why…
The main issue I have with small talk is that it feels incredibly forced. People seem like they are scared or at the very least feel awkward around there being silence, so they force out this generic small talk. But I believe if you are with the right person silence can be comforting. It does not have to be a bad thing. I have never been a fan of fake people or fake conversation and it is so easy to spot. The questions are so boring and they invite dull or blunt answers: this actually makes it worse for me as the conversation is not flowing naturally, nor are either party really that interested in it. It is like trying to fill a hole but the two of you are just digging even deeper.
There must be some kind of myth around introverted people being anti-social but a lot of the time, it can be the complete opposite. Many of us are comfortable with silence and enjoy our own company. This means that we can communicate on our own terms and with people, we can genuinely connect with. There is no urgent desire to go chasing people that we do not need or connect with. It is nice to keep our circles small. This for me is incredibly rewarding, as I know I do not have to go through that small talk stage with people. I know that there are others out there that think and feel the same way as me. That is most comforting.
The whole small talk stage of any kind of friendship or relationship – even meeting a colleague for the first time can be incredibly boring. The same generic questions you hear and have to repeat every time, for example, “Where are you from?”, “What is the weather like where you’re from?”, etc. How do I know you are truly interested? Truthfully it feels like being attacked with question after question, with no authenticity or meaning behind it. It is like getting a snapshot of somebodies life without any real connection. It is so fake.
Small talk can happen so fast and as an introvert, I like time to listen and process information before I give a response. This allows my answer to be more honest and well-thought-out. How can I tell you how I am feeling when I am not sure if you care? What would happen to the conversation if I told you I was feeling upset or stressed or confused? Would it continue? I think with many people it would not, but I am not sure as I do not open up too much to just anyone. I want to feel like I can trust the person I am speaking to and that they are likely to follow up on my answer, otherwise it is just wasted, meaningless conversation – just like small talk.
4 thoughts on “Why I hate small talk (As an autistic person).”
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Judy (An Autism Observer)
I’m an introvert & do better with deeper discussions myself. But what I’ve learned is that sometimes we NEED that small talk to get to know others better, even other introverts, so we CAN talk about those deeper things. Those little questions I view as ice-breakers. Maybe the other person needs a bit of extra help or needs that small talk to feel comfortable. At the start. But that’s also why I (as well as many introverts) prefer writing. Then we can engage in that proverbial small talk, get to know each other better, but we can take our time in answering. How can we trust people & in turn THEY trust us if we don’t open up slowly, aka that small talk?
Extroverts tend to be on the go & thrive for that small talk whereas us introverts don’t. Neither are right, neither are wrong. We just have to do what’s best for us.
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I remember the time when I used to talk a lot with the people at school and colleges. And now that I am out of the education phase, I find it harder to talk to people for hours. Nobody stays long enough like educational phase. People just do small talk and move one. I guess though we hate it, this too is a phase as well.
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I have Asperger’s which as you are aware, is on the Autistic spectrum. I can relate to your article. It’s sometimes hard to process a response so I tend to avoid conversations like these if possible.
Great article by the way
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