How to make friends and delineate people

Copyright xkcd

I have no problem making small talk. I can dive into conversation with a stranger, or completely ignore either strangers or friends alike, depending on the mood.

Some people don’t find it as easy as I do, though. Maybe I will conduct a study and write a book for those who have trouble forming simple sentences, yet are otherwise highly intelligent, fully-functioning individuals. I mean, why is it you can master the English Language with perfect cadence, structure, and intonation, but aren’t able to make conversation?

Surely small talk should be reducible to, say, a few hundred typical questions, delineated into conversation trees according to the conversant’s responses, how well one knows the conversant, what the current events are, and your societal, bureaucratic or professional position relative to the conversant.

Timing of the questions and the length of your responses would have to be studied as well. You might have to take into account the physical setting; you would obviously speak differently in an office building than in a tavern.

Topics of study could include how to deal with distractions, appropriate degrees of eye (or physical) contact, taking into account cultural variations, and of course the differences in speaking with men and women, subdivided by whether you, yourself, are a man or a woman.

I suppose you might have to include children in the study as well, divided into family or strangers, and obviously how annoying the parents are.

It’s also important to include how to speak with people toward whom you had varying degrees of friendship or interest, romantic or otherwise. Or is it? Should one make small talk differently with a woman whom you think you might like to befriend, than with a woman you had no interest in?

Are there socially appropriate ways to curtail dull conversations? Actually, curtailing dull conversations would take up about half the chapters in the resultingbook.

Anyway. That’s not what my actual book is about (you’ll have to wait until January for that).

My point is, small talk is easy. If you meet me out there, come up and have a chat –  I swear I won’t bite.

Bonus point if you bring a whisky.

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