Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Breaking the First Rule of Small Talk

This post from the What's Best Next Blog by Matt Perman, senior director of strategy at Desiring God, made me smile. I picture all the awkward small talk that I've had in my life and I have to laugh.

Some people instantly welcome you into warmth and comfort with their small talk. With others it can be both stiff and awkward. Why?

Perman quotes author Keith Ferrazzi, and I think there is something to be said for his point of view.

Small talk experts claim that when you first meet a person, you should avoid unpleasant overly personal, and highly controversial issues.

Wrong! Don't listen to these people! Nothing has contributed more to the development of boring chitchatters everywhere. The notion that everyone can be everything to everybody at all times is completely off the mark. Personally, I'd rather be interested in what someone was saying, even if I disagreed, than be catatonic any day.

There's one guaranteed way to stand out in the professional world: Be yourself. I believe that vulnerability--yes vulnerability--is one of the most underappreciated assets in business today. Too many people confuse secrecy with importance...And as a rule, not many secrets are worth the energy required to keep them secret.

Being up front with people confers respect; it pays them the compliment of candor. The issues we all care most about are the issues we all want to talk about most. Of course, this isn't a call to be confrontational or disrespectful. It's a call to be honest, open, and vulnerable enough to genuinely allow other people into your life so that they can be vulnerable in return.

I think we often take ourselves too seriously. And while I think it is unwise to 'air all our dirty laundry' to everyone, I also resonate with Ferrazzi's thought that, "not many secrets are worth the energy required to keep them secret.

I'm a Christian so I know I'm flawed. The only thing that makes me acceptable is that I am "in the Beloved." In all truth, I feel more comfortable with someone who knows my imperfections (and hopefully still likes me) then with someone who thinks I'm better then I actually am.

I also feel much more comfortable with people who are transparent. Those who show the real them with quirks and all. And honestly, the people who are the most fun to be with are the ones that can really laugh at themselves.

I need to be willing to welcome people into my world. I suppose the worst that could happen is that someone will think I'm a bit of a fool...and they may be right. But maybe someone else would feel warm and welcomed.


  1. Great post, Christel. Im so afraid of small talk that sometimes I avoid people...thats worse. But this gave me stuff to think about. Be transparent...quirks and all:)

  2. Hey Christel, glad you posted a link on Facebook. I will be back to read more great posts. Hope you all are well!

  3. Hey Danielle, I see you have a blog too. I can't wait to read your posts when I get a moment!

    Jess, I miss you! How is life going with the two little ones?

  4. So... How are you? How are the kids? How 'bout that weather?

    Is that what you mean by being transparent?

  5. Had a good lunch with your husband today. Oh ya, and we skipped the small talk.

  6. Haha. Clint said he had a good time too. And who knows...maybe the weather is a good transition into more personal conversation?