Turning “Small Talk” into Positive Talk
In certain situations, some days we would rather avoid small talk with strangers. Socializing does not come natural to most of us but sometimes we are in spaces where we chat with a person. Whether you’re at a cafe or a new place, for some of us conversation does not come up easily and that is ok. It’s tough to stand in a situation where we regret that we started a conversation. Negative people are every where. Making small-talk, whether our intentions were good or not, doesn’t mean we particularly care one hundred percent about the other person. In particular, when we ask someone how their day is going, and they immediately respond by negatively listing all the bad things going on in life and in the world. Negative talk leaves us in a state where we feel overwhelmed and actually start giving into this person’s sadness. Women especially shouldn’t have to choose between putting up with dull conversations about how hard life is and listening to bitter people to show kindness.
Here are some techniques to quietly ignore a person who won’t stop complaining:
1 - Slowly be kind and place your AirPods, earphones, headset in your ears and stare straight ahead.
If a person starts going on about how crappy the world is, slowly start plugging away. It might be considered rude to just start putting on headphones but at least you’re disassociating yourself from a toxic conversation.
2 - Start talking about yourself.
If this person truly isn’t complaining about a situation that you feel the need to respond to, then move on by talking about how nice the weather is and how your day is going. Try shifting the perspective of the conversation from negative it to a light-hearted mood.
3 - Don’t try to convince a negative person with an optimistic point of view.
When we see the world dark then it stays that way, we see the world the way we desire. Based on our individual experiences, biological chemical compounds, situations, cultures, and subcultures, we all worry about similar contexts. In our individual experiences, life can truly be seen differently, depending on the person’s point of view. We’re surrounded by pessimists and optimists, if you don’t want to then don’t try to advocate for optimism in this scenario.
We were taught by society, to be courteous when making small talk by asking how someone’s day is going, but when this person starts to dump information in your ear complaining about their life or about world events, we shouldn't give in and change our productive mindsets.
Make others feel how you would like to feel. If you’re not in the mood to chat, then move on.
I came across this amazing podcast episode from The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips For Better Mental Health, How to Deal With People Who Talk Too Much by Dr. Ellen Hendriksen. Here’s the link for Spotify. Dr. Hendriksen offers tangible advice when you are too distracted by the environment of your work space.
Is your cubicle the unofficial water cooler? Are you tempted to set up shop in the handicapped stall just to close a door and get some work done?