The Real Reason Introverts Absolutely Hate Small Talk

Photo: stockfour / Getty Images via Canva

A lot of people are introverts. It's not that they always sit by themselves in a corner and never talk to people; rather, they can be social, but may become overwhelmed in social situations.

Some are famous for leaving parties early, yet may enjoy certain social events, like spoken word or comedy shows. No matter where they go, introverts will certainly be forced to make small talk at one point or another.

Whether it's crossing the street to avoid talking to people or keeping headphones in to prevent any form of conversation, introverts just aren't great at small talk. But why is that?

RELATED: 7 Ways An Introverted Type-B Personality Loves Differently

What is small talk?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, small talk is "a conversation about things that are not important, often between people who do not know each other well." Small talk revolves around statements that don't hold much value, like conversation starters with strangers that often end up being awkward.

Some examples of small talk include phrases like:

  • "The weather has been bad lately."
  • "It's a nice party, huh?"
  • "Did you see the news today?"
  • "Can you believe all of this rain we've been having?"
  • "It looks like it's going to snow."

Why do introverts hate small talk?

Believe it or not, there is a rationality behind why introverts have issues with small talk. One reason introverts may dislike small talk is that it can feel false and meaningless, leading some introverts to avoid it when possible.

When you're stuck at a party and find yourself talking about the appetizers with someone you barely know, you're not learning anything new or even getting to know your conversation partner any better.

Psychologist Laurie Helgoe, author of "Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength," contends that small talk actually blocks true interaction.

"Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people," she writes in her book. "We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people."

RELATED: 12 Ways Introverts Are The Most Confusing People You'll Ever Meet

Aside from small talk feeling like a conversation that will lead to nowhere substantial, there are additional reasons introverts, in particular, steer clear from small talk.

1. Small talk is incredibly fake.

No one truly cares about the weather or a mundane news story. Small talk is a conversation about topics that may not hold much value to the participants, or is used as a way to fill the silence.

But silence is perfectly okay, and there is no value in a conversation when introverts loathe having to participate in one.

2. Small talk is a waste of energy.

Besides feeling fake and pointless, small talk drains an introvert's limited "people energy." If you look at the energy supply that introverts have for social interaction as a battery, their battery gains or loses energy depending on the social interaction.

If they're speaking to a friend about a topic that fascinates them, their battery is recharged and at full capacity again. However, if they're waiting in line at the post office and someone they barely know is going on and on about the horrible service, all the energy has drained out of the battery.

3. Small talk deters deeper conversations.

Some introverts may prefer substantial conversations about philosophy and ideas over small talk. In fact, introverts can get easily intimidated, bored or exhausted by small talk. They'd much rather be real with someone and talk about more weighty topics.

RELATED: It's Not That Introverts Hate People, We Just Hate Shallow, Petty Small Talk

Is it normal to hate small talk?

It is absolutely normal to hate small talk. Nobody enjoys vapid topics of conversation. No one wants to put effort into a conversation they know isn't going to go anywhere, so it isn't out of the ordinary for someone to dislike small talk.

How do I get over hating small talk?

While small talk may be necessary in certain situations, it's also possible to steer the conversation towards topics that are more engaging. The key to surviving making small talk tolerable and less draining is to take control of the conversation and steer it toward topics that are interesting.

Introverts get energized and excited by ideas. Delve in and ask questions, and if someone asks you a question, give them an interesting, more-than-one-word response. Ask open-ended questions that encourage the other person to share more about themselves, such as "What do you enjoy doing in your free time?"

The upside to asking questions and listening to the responses with interest is that you'll be more likable and make a better impression. Knowing that might help make small talk a little easier.

Other ways to get over the dread of small talk include:

  • Looking for exciting stories — i.e., asking about their life story
  • Changing your mindset to be more curious
  • Asking questions you also have knowledge about to keep the conversation going
  • Going deeper whenever possible

RELATED: The One-Minute Lemon Test That Reveals If You're An Introvert Or Extrovert

Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.