It’s no secret that introverts loathe small talk. It almost seems like our deep-diving brains weren’t made for it. We get energized by playing with ideas, analyzing information, expanding our knowledge, and connecting authentically. None of that happens when you make small talk.
Of course, small talk serves an important purpose. It can help two conversational partners “warm up” to each other, and it can be a gateway to more meaningful discussion. The problem is many conversations never move to that satisfying, deeper level. They get stuck in a predictable rut of “How was your weekend?” “Fine! How was yours?” When this happens, neither person really learns anything new about the other person, so the relationship stagnates. And for introverts, who value a few close, meaningful relationships over an entourage of surface-level ones, these shallow interactions are what make us want to hide in the bathroom during our lunch breaks.
So, what kinds of things would introverts rather talk about than make small talk? To find out, I asked introverts who are members of the Introvert, Dear Facebook group, as well as introverts who follow my personal Facebook profile. Here’s what they would enjoy talking about:
1. What your biggest dreams in life are. “My favorite is to talk about dreams. What are you working towards, what are your goals and plans? What inspires or motivates you, and brings you back to life?” —Sara
2. “Why” questions. “I like talking about reasons or motivations for human actions, struggles, and triumphs.” —Sadie
3. What moves you and keeps you going. “What’s something recently that you found a surprising amount of inspiration in?” —Brandon
4. What’s really going on in your life. “I enjoy talking about the reality of life… sorrows, how to heal from pain, celebrations, love and its pain, interactions with others, how to know oneself. The list is endless.” —Estino
5. The big stuff. “I enjoy conversations about the nature of reality, extraterrestrial beings, the origin of life, who are we, why am I here, whether any of this is even real, social constructs that are ingrained within me, and so forth.” —Ryan
6. What you’re struggling with right now. “Being an INFJ personality type, I like to hear about problems one is going through and see if I can provide a solution to make their life less miserable. It’s not because of sympathy but out of empathy.” —Shivani
(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.)
7. Life lessons you’ve learned the hard way. “I enjoy hearing about things people have been through in life and the lessons they learned.” —Ashley
8. Your creative endeavors. “If it’s someone I’ve clicked with, I love love love hearing about creative projects people are in the process of building, especially if they revolve around filmmaking and storytelling (but basically just any project that seems out of the ordinary).” —Julie
9. The hobbies and interests that you could spend hours and hours pursuing. “I usually ask folks about their hobbies so that I can drill down and find out what truly makes them happy.” —Grace
10. A tricky problem that needs solving. “I feel most comfortable exploring a problem I can help solve, but I’ll talk about anything for a while if I like and respect the person.” —Brad
11. Things that go bump in the night. Nicole: “What keeps people up at night.” Scott: “What dreams mean.”
12. The parts of you that you don’t share with just anyone. “I am really fascinated with people, and I like trying to figure them out, so when someone is comfortable enough with me to open up and discuss the deeper aspects of themselves that they don’t always share, I love that!” —Deanna
13. How your values and ideas are evolving. “Personal evolution — how are you seeking in some way to further refine yourself?” —Jake
14. An event that changed your life. “What’s one thing that changed the trajectory of your life? A pivotal moment that lead to your purpose?” —Jae
15. The universe. “I love discussing the ideas of parallel universes, black holes, and the size of the universe. How our planet may just be a blip on the radar of a much greater existence.” —Shireen
16. Books. “Ask me about what books I’ve read lately and I will talk forever.” —Megan
17. The topics that are usually absent from party chitchat. “I like talking about economics, politics, the markets, cosmology, cultural development, history, the big picture, logic, extradimensionality, and God.” —Paul
18. Anything genuine. “Honestly, I’ll talk about anything. Just don’t ask me what I do for a living if you don’t want to hear about it, and don’t tell me about the weather we’re having. Just be genuine. That makes me feel comfortable enough to do the same.” —Jill
19. Anything intelligent. “I will listen to any intelligent conversation anyone is willing to have with me. Every day is a school day — we are all still learning, and listening to people who know a subject is the best way to learn. Also, it means I don’t have to talk much!” —Jacqueline
Think you know introversion? Think again. Check out my upcoming book, The Secret Lives of Introverts, which explores what it really means to be an introvert.
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