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Mastering The Art of Small Talk

March 24, 2011
OK, so say you are... Oh... I don't know... Say you are me. And say that you don't really care about most people. You don't care about their kids. You don't care about their significant other. You don't care about their pet snail ironically named "speedy". You don't care about their job. You don't care what they did yesterday. You don't care what they're doing tomorrow. And frankly you don't care if they got hit by a bus next week. And let's say that you are a really bad actor so you can't even really act like you care.

And let's say that for whatever reason you are forced to talk to someone that you couldn't give a flying fuck about. How do you make small talk?

If it's some random hideously unattractive yay-hoo who, for example, a soon-to-be ex-friend has dumped on you and then conveniently bolted away because, "
OMG! There's Madge. I MUST go talk to her!" then it's quite simple really. You need to master the art of the uncomfortable silence. How pray tell do you do this? Well, first you make eye contact and stare. Now, this takes a little bit of skill because you don't want to project a "I want to jump your bones right here and right now," kind of vibe. So the stare needs to be serious and pointed, as in "I'll give you 10 seconds to entertain me, so dance, monkey dance!" If you lean back and cross your arms expectantly, this will help.

Generally this will make the other person so uncomfortable that he or she will either a) nervously begin to chatter uncontrollably or b) skulk off to cry in the corner.

If b) happens, then you're free to go find your soon-to-be ex-friend and kick his/her ass in front of that bitch Madge – eh maybe you should just kick Madge’s ass too while you’re at it.  Maybe you don’t know her very well but anyone named Madge deserves a good ass kicking.

If a) happens then answer any and all questions with a one word answer, sigh loudly as you look away with a bored and impatient look on your face and then slowly turn your eyes to bore down on theirs again. Eventually the person will run out of things to say and an uncomfortable silence will ensue.  At this point, just continue to stare and maybe raise one eyebrow as if to say, "...And????..... Is that all you've got???“ This may cause the person to stutter a bit as they rack their brain with more inane topics to allow him/her to continue to chatter nervously, but if you repeat this long enough, the well will eventually run dry and he or she will eventually skulk off to cry in the corner.

But what if the person is important? What if you find yourself in the elevator with your CEO - someone who can make or break your career? What if your elevator is so slow that you swear that it's being operated by a mule and a guy with a carrot on a stick? What if you happen to work on the 80th floor? And what if you can't make small talk to save your life?

Hmmmmmm....I guess I can't help you there.

I guess you're just fucked.