Let’s get one thing straight right away – introverts aren’t shy. Far from it. We just don’t feel like acting all cheery and bubbly in every social situation which is why we can seem kind of aloof sometimes. Quite frankly, most social situations are tiring and nonsensical to us.
Naturally, introverts are mysterious people (in a good way) and that piques the curiosity of everyone around them even more. What I notice often in their counterpart, the extroverts, is that they don’t tend to put too much thought about their questions to introverts so they can often come off as rude and intrusive. Questions like:
Q: “Why are you so shy?”
A: “Trust me, I am not shy.”
Not even close. I usually smile or laugh whenever I hear people describe me as being “shy”. I imagine saying this with a blank face will scare people. I like replying with this because it stays in line with my character – straight to the point with a little sprinkle of mysteriousness. It also shows some confidence and, if used correctly, can even come off as flirty depending on how you say it. Usually, though, merely answering with this line just confuses people even more and that almost always makes them want to ask the usual follow-up question:
Q: “Why are you so quiet then?”
A: “Oh, my mind was caught up on (insert normal activity here). How’s your day going?”
The trick is not to stop with the first sentence. Doing so reinforces the mistaken belief that you are indeed quiet so you follow-up your initial answer with a question of your own to keep the conversation going. I know, I know… I hate small talk, too. I immediately put on my Blahblahblah Radar during these situations. Not only is the person you’re talking to chatting about nothing substantial but he/she is also putting the pressure on me to lead or continue the (tiresome) conversation.
If I feel like the person asking me this question is being an asshole or I have no interest in seeing him/her again, I’ll usually reply with something more on the offensive like, “Well, give me something to talk about then!” You know why this works? Because extroverts LOVE talking about nothing. We know this. There isn’t much of an intellectual conversation in most social situations like parties or clubs. Speaking of which, if you’re stuck in a party and you happen to run out of talking material, go ahead and start helping the host serve drinks or clean up things. Being helpful is always a great thing and the host will like you even more. The bonus is new conversations can start from there, “Thanks for throwing the party… you OK with drinks?”
Q: “What do you do for a living?”
A: “Currently, I’m a freelance programmer and it’s a lot of fun. I’m saving up money so I can go back to school and figure out what I really want to do before I end up on a shit-ton of debt!”
Everyone can relate to debt. It also shows you’re managing your life and making big-boy (or girl) decisions. Really, though, this is a tricky question depending on your situation. It’s either you have a nice, long-term ideal job or a sucky one that you don’t want to do for the rest of your life. The key here is to NOT make up a job you don’t have but rather to keep the conversation going while ending on a high note. You may be jobless at the moment but you could also say that you’ve been looking at a few jobs that you really like or you have interviews coming up or you have just been called up for an internship. Whatever your answer is, always end on a high note. You don’t want to be a Debbie Downer which could abruptly kill the conversation.
On a somewhat related note, did you know that in Japan asking a question like this during the first meeting is considered very rude and intruding? In Japanese culture, guests are treated welcomingly and are to be made comfortable as possible. So avoiding any judgmental question is necessary. When I first read about this I thought that was very interesting and actually awe-inspiring. Seriously, cramming your occupation and life-inspirations into simple, short sentences the first time you meet someone can not only be complicated but also a case of too much information for a complete stranger. Sorry, went rambling there a bit. Definitely an introvert!
Q: “What’s new?”
A: “I started watching Breaking Bad yesterday!”
Yes, really, you can answer with whatever you want no matter how mundane or non-sensical it might sound and it’d still be fine. This is by far the most common small talk question so it’s loved by all extroverts. The point is to pick up the conversation. Never ever ever ever EVER say, “Eh… nothing, really.” It’s a conversation killer. Most introverts think waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard into the simplest questions. Turn off your brain for a while and say the first thing that pops in your mind. That’s the key to handling small talks, especially for us introverts. Our minds can be our best friend and worst enemy at the same time.