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LearningTime
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21 Nov 2012, 3:39 pm

Let's define small talk as conversation that doesn't need to be had for the sake of what's actually being discussed. so why does it happen? what's really going on? sometimes small talk is fine for like say two people from different countries and different languages so it's small talk is what's needed to build into an actual discussion you just start with simple stuff that's easy to understand to the non english speaker - in fact that's barely 'small talk'. so yeah why the f**k do people Need to small talk what's actually going on with it? are they judging your sound of speech far more than what you're talking about they just want to hear you speak or what?



Venger
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21 Nov 2012, 3:56 pm

Small talk is an attempt to fill awkward moments/situations with non-relevant conversation.



Stoek
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21 Nov 2012, 4:07 pm

Venger wrote:
Small talk is an attempt to fill awkward moments/situations with non-relevant conversation.


The second part is to make an emotional imprint on the victim.

So although you have no reason to have ever talked to them, you still have to feel you know them.

It's like an animal trying to leave it's sent on it's possessions.



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21 Nov 2012, 4:09 pm

As you say, it's not about the content of the conversation at all. It is a social custom. But in society in general, conversation is about more than just the exchange of information. It is almost solely through conversation (both verbal and especially non-verbal) that people get to know each other and start to understand each other. A person who engages in pleasant small talk comes across as someone who is interested in the people around them and in forming a relationship with them. Someone who refuses or dislikes small talk comes across as being cold and uninterested in forming personal relationships.

Those of us on the spectrum have a huge disadvantage here because of our difficulty with non-verbal communication. We tend to take everything literally (wondering why on earth this person is talking about the weather again - I can see it out the window! no need for discussion!) and we also tend to unintentionally give off the wrong non-verbal signals. We often seem unfriendly when really we just don't understand what the conversation is really about. Your emphasis on "speech" in your post is good evidence of this - the small talk conversations are not about speech at all.

Think of it as a social ritual between monkeys or something. The ritual itself has little meaning, but the interest in carrying out the ritual is a signal to other monkeys that you are interested in forming a social bond. Refuse the ritual, and you end up without any monkey friends! And monkeys might be a bit odd, but we're living in their world, so it's best to make an effort to be pleasant with some of them.



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21 Nov 2012, 4:14 pm

Stoek wrote:
It's like an animal trying to leave it's sent on it's possessions.


I sometimes make small talk with fish I'm going to eat.



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21 Nov 2012, 4:15 pm

kotshka wrote:
As you say, it's not about the content of the conversation at all. It is a social custom. But in society in general, conversation is about more than just the exchange of information. It is almost solely through conversation (both verbal and especially non-verbal) that people get to know each other and start to understand each other. A person who engages in pleasant small talk comes across as someone who is interested in the people around them and in forming a relationship with them. Someone who refuses or dislikes small talk comes across as being cold and uninterested in forming personal relationships.

Those of us on the spectrum have a huge disadvantage here because of our difficulty with non-verbal communication. We tend to take everything literally (wondering why on earth this person is talking about the weather again - I can see it out the window! no need for discussion!) and we also tend to unintentionally give off the wrong non-verbal signals. We often seem unfriendly when really we just don't understand what the conversation is really about. Your emphasis on "speech" in your post is good evidence of this - the small talk conversations are not about speech at all.

Think of it as a social ritual between monkeys or something. The ritual itself has little meaning, but the interest in carrying out the ritual is a signal to other monkeys that you are interested in forming a social bond. Refuse the ritual, and you end up without any monkey friends! And monkeys might be a bit odd, but we're living in their world, so it's best to make an effort to be pleasant with some of them.



Meh don't confuse conversation with small talk.

One may have small talk with a person they have no intention of befriend or even liking. It's a moderating instinct so that the ignored member of the group won't attack you in the future.


Anyhow small talk isn't as bad as it seems. Once you realize that there is no information change, no intent for sharing of feelings, just a tagging of another member of the species.



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21 Nov 2012, 4:20 pm

From what I gather, while doing research on this very topic in the past, small talk is apparently essential for bonding, and the average person (NT) may not see small talk as meaningless.

If it's true that small talk is essential, it'll explain why I miss the boat a lot. :lol:



JRR
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21 Nov 2012, 5:03 pm

Small talk is the mental equivalent of the grooming that is done by monkeys and other great apes.

Image

Yeah, we're 98% that, so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I am not joking. This is in university-level books on psychology.

I post on this all the time but read books on Evolutionary Psychology by Buss. For our logical minds, it should add up quite easily.

It's purpose, like grooming in other primates, is to create an air of comfort, to bring people closer together and create social bonds. It removes stress, to a degree, as part of the bonding process.

Now, just like in all evolution, when mutations occur, there's often a tradeoff, a new good coming with a negative, and it seems that Asperger's / ASD, while creating greater focus and mental acuity, has this thing broken in us, just like the natural ability to read social cues, and valuing things like "small talk."

Side note: I just realized that Kotshka seems to be saying basically the same thing as me, so I agree there.



Last edited by JRR on 21 Nov 2012, 5:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

riverotter
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21 Nov 2012, 5:08 pm

LearningTime wrote:
Let's define small talk as conversation that doesn't need to be had for the sake of what's actually being discussed. so why does it happen? what's really going on?


For some reason, people seem to need it, so it helps to come up with templates. For instance, someone at work says, "Hey! It's Friday!" And you are supposed to say something like, "Can't wait to get out of this place!" Then they say something like, "What are you doing this weekend?" You are NOT supposed to tell them all of your weekend plans; although it sounds like that is what they are asking, they probably just want to talk about football or basketball. Acceptable answers to this question are things like "Yeah, I'm going to my mom's on Saturday." Or, "Can't wait for the game." One sentence. You must also then ask what their plans are-- this is the most important part.

Likewise after the weekend, when people ask how your weekend was, there are two important things to remember: they don't really care, and they would rather talk about themselves. Therefore the acceptable answer follows that pattern: "It was great (or fine, or ok, or refreshing)" and then you must add the crucial part that nobody ever told me, "and how was yours?"

What's really going on is that, when you have had small talk with people, they are much more likely to help you out in the future. At work, you would think people would do the work for the sake of doing the work, but if you let them know there is a particular bit of work to be done and you have not had this small talk previously, they will not do it. They will also give you poor work evals. Yes, it is silly. It is just how it is.

Short answer: it has no meaning.



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21 Nov 2012, 5:29 pm

riverotter wrote:
LearningTime wrote:
Let's define small talk as conversation that doesn't need to be had for the sake of what's actually being discussed. so why does it happen? what's really going on?


For some reason, people seem to need it, so it helps to come up with templates. For instance, someone at work says, "Hey! It's Friday!" And you are supposed to say something like, "Can't wait to get out of this place!" Then they say something like, "What are you doing this weekend?" You are NOT supposed to tell them all of your weekend plans; although it sounds like that is what they are asking, they probably just want to talk about football or basketball. Acceptable answers to this question are things like "Yeah, I'm going to my mom's on Saturday." Or, "Can't wait for the game." One sentence. You must also then ask what their plans are-- this is the most important part.


It is almost script like, and if we don't know or forget our lines, well, we wont get promoted, so to speak.



riverotter
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21 Nov 2012, 5:35 pm

It is indeed very script-like. I like scripts.



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21 Nov 2012, 6:16 pm

Harbor Seals are cuter than otters.



iamcoley
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21 Nov 2012, 6:32 pm

Venger wrote:
Harbor Seals are cuter than otters.


Is that even possible?! Otters are SO cute.



Samian
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21 Nov 2012, 6:55 pm

I don't think it matters what's being said in small talk - the words are not imporatant. The topic can even change randomly - doesn't matter.

It's the "message" that's important and it travels its own path separate from the words.

The message is often simply "I like you - you like me - we like the same things"

People like it when you ask them questions or compliment their cloths - the "I like you" part.

The next time you see the person and their face lights up , you have confirmation that the message was received. Then you can make plans for the weekend or whatever.

I guess it's a system that 's worked fine for a long time - silly as it may seem.



LearningTime
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21 Nov 2012, 7:14 pm

kotshka wrote:
. We often seem unfriendly when really we just don't understand what the conversation is really about.

Think of it as a social ritual between monkeys or something. The ritual itself has little meaning, but the interest in carrying out the ritual is a signal to other monkeys that you are interested in forming a social bond. Refuse the ritual, and you end up without any monkey friends! And monkeys might be a bit odd, but we're living in their world, so it's best to make an effort to be pleasant with some of them.


i was gona make another post on this... because if neurotypicals are so good at reading people and understandin their emotion and state why can't they understand when an aspie person is just like nervous and all that why can't they see they're not doing anything bad. from my experience vicarious experience you know when someone is either feeling good themselves or bad roughly - so if they feel bad then it's like they don't care about you and think of you as bad - but that aint the case. neurotypicals definately have trouble telling a nervous person from a one who doesn't like them. it's funny sometime i've acted aggressive and stuff with my facial expresion given evils yet somehow they've responded like as if i'm being friendly to them (some kind of animalistic aggressive yet respectable idk) i'm only talking about when dealing with like takeaway cashiers and delivery people.

and the other point yeah i hate how all of this is technically so unneccessary to people whose minds are on really big tasks like curing cancer, creating virtual reality and all that sort of s**t whose minds are simply so used to using words to think independtly and originally for good that small talk when combined with the idea you NEED to small talk by their standards it gets a little offensive. like honestly if there the monkeys and we're like more advanced why are they trying to teach small talk - it can't even be taught you either want to do it or you don't - reason it can't be taught what i mean by that is it's like a monkey teaching a human how to fling it's s**t at others (that was a bit extreme but idk is that social ritual monkeys do lol). idk if you make sure you come across as the type of person who would make small talk but it's just so strange to them to talk about any stuff at random without thought then that to me doesn't come across as rude especially if it's say someone you're living in teh same uni flat and you'r eboth in the kitchen you share. but if i was using the same kitchen or stuck in some semi-permanent situation with others not just passing and the person appeare to be someone who would small talk then i'd think they purposely aren't and it would feel awkward and i'd want there to be some small talk otherwise it's like you're just completely blanking em. i think people wear headphones to the kitchen when they don't wana small talk in order to not come across as rude for not small talking as the headphones lessen the idea that they just aren't specifically speaking to you and you think right they just wana listen to music. i guess that's why they wear headphones (too many people do it for it to be simply oh they like listening to their own music in the kitchen).

the problem is small talk should only ever happen naturally and for some people the non sensory ones ie the systemisers it won't happen naturally because they won't be empathitically reading the face of the other person and that initial connection which is leads to small talk of just enjoying hearing the other persons sound and ie the emotion from it the feeling and then talking/doing whatever you want to do as you're both feeling the same.

yeah i relate us to dolphins they're intelligent and so all they have to do for fun is play with what they have so they do flipping out of water and blow rings with their nose. with us all we have is words to a large extent so we play with them (ie small talk) ie it's got nothing to do with the words themselves but because we are animals of words we just use words even though we just want to make a sound. literally why isn't small talk just done with echolalia to one another lol it would make a lot more sense and be more personal probably as you can really focus on your voice inflection and sound lol.



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21 Nov 2012, 7:28 pm

The OP might enjoy this thread from a few years ago entitled "NTs DO THINGS with conversation..."
http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt87241.html