Small talk for me is like walking through fire with gasoline drawers on. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an extreme exaggeration but my dear friend Holly used that expression years ago on a girls weekend and it makes me laugh every time I get the opportunity to say it.
Moving on…I feel socially awkward when it comes to small talk. My friends tell me that I don’t “appear” socially awkward but it is incredibly uncomfortable for me. I much prefer deep conversations about theories and feelings. These interactions spark my creativity and are very meaningful to me. For me, it’s a waste of time to talk about the weather or sports when these are just surface level things that don’t really have a direct impact on our lives. Hey, I am who I am 🙂
I had the opportunity to attend a Rotary Club meeting as a guest this week. This club is large and very active. When you walk into the meeting space, the vibe is positive and friendly. I was mentally prepared for small talk about the weather and other token niceties (truth, all I was armed with was the weather and I hoped my friend, Gary would carry me through the rest of the conversation).
After finding Gary and having introductions with our table mates, I found my way to the buffet line. I really enjoy watching people. I like to study body language and observe interactions. You can tell a lot about someone just by watching how they interact.
The buffet was set up on two six-foot tables with a portable steam table at the end. You could approach from both sides. There was a woman across from me getting her food and a few people behind both of us on either side of the table.
When I saw the salad I thought to myself how large the salad bowl was and wondered where one would purchase such a large bowl. I then selected my toppings as the woman across from me did the same while talking to a gentleman she knew. We both got to the dressings at the same time and there were three choices in clear containers, each with a spoon. I noticed that the red dressing had overflowed and wondered if the individual had accidentally overfilled it. I said nothing. The woman across from me turned to the man and said, “I wonder why they didn’t clean up that mess? Look, it’s all over the table.” I said nothing.
Next in the buffet were pasta salads and they were arranged in pretty bowls with kale. There were at least five salads to choose from and as I began scooping my salad, I heard the woman say “Would you look at this? These salads are almost gone! Don’t they know they need to fill these?” I remained quiet and proceeded to get my bread with the last stop being lasagna. Hello, lasagna! It was a pan of melted cheesy goodness and all the carbs that I love. I couldn’t wait to get some on my plate! As I approached the steam table, the woman was scooping out her lasagna and she sighed a bit and made a snorting noise as she told the man behind her, “I can hardly get this on my plate. They really should have cut this for us.”
I found myself feeling mildly irritated and a little sad for this woman. It’s interesting how easy I allowed her critical comments to seep into my mindset. Once I became aware of how I was feeling, I stopped it and then felt a little sad for her. If those are the things coming out of her mouth, what is in her heart?
Here’s the thing, I’m sure she has NO idea that she operates with a critical eye. She was making small talk and perhaps wanting to feel important. I would guess that her comments and perspective reach far beyond the buffet line.
I challenge you to check your perspective. What’s your view of the buffet table before you today and what are you allowing o impact your view?
Life is how we see it and the great thing is that we can choose what we focus on.
Phillipians 4:23 says …whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.
P.S. I made it through the Rotary Club meeting with small talk and Gary did carry me through some conversations but we also talked about meaningful things like dementia research and initiatives for eradicating polio in every nation all over the world.