Small Talk vs. Large Talk (Your Rich Inner Life)
A message you’ll see a lot in social media is “you are loved.” But a blanket statement to a thousand friends looks nice on the surface and is relatively useless under the hood.
What matters is not what cover photo you have on your Facebook or Instagram. What matters is curiosity about those things that exist outside of yourself.
I have this friend that I used to quietly observe while she had conversations with people. Whereas most people have small talk conversations that skate across the surface of life (where did you go on vacation? How’s your mom?), she would dig deeply into the very fibers of a person’s life story.
She’d ask questions that explore the person’s values, rather than just about the events in their life. By the end of the conversation, the person usually felt like they had been understood (no matter how minute of an understanding) and also that they understood themselves better due to verbalizing their thoughts and opinions.
We could learn from this practice.
So much small talk misses the point of human connection. Conversation known as small talk is simply meant to pass time at a gathering. What’s the point? Having deeper conversations, ones that challenge us and help us to articulate our goals and our hopes and our dreams… those are the ones worth having.
And sometimes it’s necessary to resort to the ease of small talk. There are some situations where “large” talk may not be appropriate. But there are many other situations where it could be, where there’s an opportunity for a deeper dive into someone’s psyche.
There’s no better way to act on the phrase “you are loved” than to be genuinely curious about someone else’s rich inner life. And there’s no better way to gain self-clarity than to expose your own richer inner life to another person.