The other day as I flipped through a magazine, an article caught my eye. In it, a celebrity stated that small talk is "beneath us."
While I understand the desire to have conversations about big, news-worthy matters or political debates, we often overlook the importance and necessity that exists in small talk.
I'm not referring to inane cocktail party conversation with your boss's wife about the weather or your shoes. I'm thinking of those beginning conversations that allow us to get to know someone; those little chats that pave the way for a meaningful friendship or future relationship.
Small talk is essentially a light conversation. It's commonly used when talking to someone you've just met or don't know very well. It's essential to successful business networking and relationships. But, it's equally important in laying the groundwork for our personal relationships, too.
When I think of small talk, I envision a woman during the Victorian era who's perhaps new to town and newly married. Can't you just picture her attending an afternoon tea or joining a quilting bee? She's so grateful for the small talk that helps her get to know her new neighbors and community while those in attendance get to know her, too. Perhaps she finds common ground with someone her own age or in similar circumstances. That light conversation may turn into a friendship that means the world to her.
Or maybe it's a mail-order bride who finds herself alone in a primitive cabin miles from town while her husband is out hunting or working the land. How grateful she must have been to see another woman show up at her door, one who made the effort to small talk. In the midst of conversations about wars, Indian raids, fires, plagues, and pestilence, I can only imagine the oasis of calm and comfort small talk must have provided.
I can even imagine a man who's meeting a woman for the first time. Small talk would have been an effective way to give himself a moment in her presence as he listened to the sound of her voice, studied how she carried herself.
Through the years, we haven't really changed that much. We still need those light conversations, the ones that break the ice and let us know we aren't alone.
There are times and places when "big talk" is needed. But I hope we never, ever cast aside the fine art of small talk. It is there, in those light conversations, that our minds initially connect, and in those small words that eventually tie our hearts together.
After spending her formative years on a farm in Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
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