13 Things I'd Rather Do or Say Than Small Talk

13 Things I'd Rather Do or Say Than Small Talk

It's so dreaded. What if we replaced it?
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"Hi! How are you?" "Oh good" "Yeah, the weather really has been bad." "This event sure is nice, though. I think they re-did the carpet." "If only we all just weren't so busy." "More sleep, yep, that'd be so great."

I'm pretty sure we've all had experience with it: the dreaded small talk. Okay, sometimes it can be convenient in short gaps of time to initially gauge what a person's like, but I think we often engage in this small-talking habit for too long.

If I've met you (and often even if I've only known you for literally three minutes), my mind moves. I want to talk deeper, to do something meaningful,to change this interaction to add more value in some way to our lives or to the world.

Here's 13 ways that we can say and do more than just small talk.

1. Investigate a New Topic

It turns out we each have a new topic literally right in front of us: each other. We could keep talking about the weather or the room's decorations, or we could actually realize that the carpet is going to stay new if we talk about it or not but we could find out something truly interesting about the human being we are interacting with.

You can use whatever method suits you as to try to find out more about not just what the person does but what they're passionate about, not just their name but what has made them into the person they are, not just their interests but the struggles they've encountered along the way.

2. Try the Question Game

This can help you when you're "investigating." Rules: one person asks a question. It can be about anything, but it's most fun if it's deeper than "what's your job?" Think more along the lines of "what does happiness look like for you?" or "what makes your life meaningful?"

"Why" questions can be particularly insightful for the question game, too: "why do you think people chase happiness so much?" "why do you think so many people love to laugh" "why do you think the news stories that gain popularity take off?"

3. Play What If

This question game might seem to personal for some and could potentially freak them out. I can't give you a hard and fast rule about when the question game is appropriate; you'll have to determine that in each situation.

Another option can be used, though. You can ask "what if." Ask what if about something psychological, cultural, relational, experimental or (really) whatever you want. Think along the lines of "what if people actually lived happily every day?" "what if everybody stopped driving cars to work?" "what if people were consistently intentional with kindness in their family relationships? "what if everyone in this room were to be forced to talk about their deepest fears?"

4. Seek to Help

By this point in your conversation you may (or hey, may not) have heard something about the person or what they in their life that you may have had some experience with, too. Maybe you have some wisdom to share that could help them. Maybe you just got a new idea that they might need to hear to get them thinking.

If you're looking for ways that you can help this person, whether it be through advice or even something tangible like a reference, you'd be surprised at what you might find.

5. Learn a Skill

In your conversing, you may have discovered the other person has a skill or strange hobby. Maybe this really interests you.

Why not find out more about it? You can increase your knowledge and maybe even learn quite a bit more about a skill. You never know when this can come in handy later down the road.

6. Impersonate Sherlock

Maybe you are sick of talking about yourself or the other person. Chances are, you are in an environment, and are other people around you. What about them? What can you observe about the way they are standing, interacting, gesturing, wearing, doing?

If no one else is around, then just look around the room. What do you notice about his environment? What does the wallpaper or items left on the floor indicate? What might have this room been used from in the past?

Playing a little detective and seeing what you discover about the other people around or the environment can be surprisingly entertaining.

7. Be Spontaneous

You might be in a situation where you're not confined to small talk around a table. If you have ability to re-locate, you can consider it.

What might be right around the corner? What does that room down the hall have?

Exploration can provide alternative options for engagement.

Even if you can't physically explore, spontaneity can still happen other ways. Maybe they've been talking about how their little brother has started recording songs. Why not look the songs up? Maybe you found that you both have always wanted to learn the lyrics of that Beatles song. Why not now?

Spontaneity often leads down more engaging roads than small talk.

8. Start a Social Experiment

Not everyone is comfortable with this option, but some sure are. If you and your small-talking acquaintance are around other people, you can try something that is out of the social norm.

This doesn't have to be super weird and random (though it could be). What if you dared each other to do something kind? To go compliment someone else in the room? To say something encouraging to another person?

The "out of the norm" activities to look for can be as simple as a random act of kindness, but it can simply go a long way.

9. Maximize Dual Potential

Maybe you've discovered you both share a common interest. Songwriting. Gardening. Social justice advocacy. Llamas.

Why not explore all the options while you have your shared strength?

First, see if you can do anything about your shared interest now. You both love songwriting? Why not choose a topic and go for it?

Second, see if there's anything they know that you can learn from. Try to see what their experience has shown or taught them and learn from the wisdom.

Third, see what your brainstorming power can do. Think about the topic and talk about some goals with the topic. Then let your collective brainpower lose and try to come up with all the possible solutions, new ideas, different angles on the topic, or action step.

When you find someone with common interest, you just have to take advantage of the opportunity.

11. Talk about Change

The world is raft with issues, even outside of you and your acquaintance's personal spheres. Instead of commenting about the new carpet, what if you discussed what changes you wish you saw in the world? What if you talked about what would need to happen for these changes? What if you looked smaller and asked what you could do?

You don't have to limit your discussions about change about current events or global issues, though. You can pick ideas and talk about those, and the ideas can come from literally anything. Science developments. The new TV series you've been watching. The way your neighbor's new house design is maximizing her ability to entertain. Your family.

The limit to the ideas you can talk about is simply the limit your two brains can think.

12. Brainstorm Ways to Help

Alright, so you've been talking about all these ideas and what can be done. You can step up your game and really kicks these action plans--ways to help--into gear. You can look to what you can do.

But what if you thought about ways to help in your personal lives? What if you tried to come up with practical ways that you or your acquaintance can move closer to goals that you guys have talked about? What if you brainstormed about more universal elements, like your relationships? What if you thought about how to be more intentional in your family, among friends, or among co-workers?

13. Make a Difference

You've been thinking about ways that you can make changes. What if you thought smaller, though? What if you looked at what you could do to make a difference in the moment?

Is the host at your event running behind? Could she use a helping hand? Is there trash at some tables? Could you pick it up?

What about the people at the location? Is someone looking uncomfortable; can you go and ease their unease?

If you keep your eyes open to ways in which you can make a difference, you might be surprised.


Small talk doesn't have to be all that happens. It's up to you, and you can often go as deep as your comfort levels will take you. Image what could happen if your conversations and actions started looking a little more like this?

I mean, you can keep talking about the weather and new carpet all you want. Let's just be clear: it's your choice.

As it has been said before, may your choices reflect your hopes (not your fears).

Cover Image Credit: Career Girl Daily

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44 Lyrics For When You Need An Instagram Caption

Your caption is just as important as the filter.
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Choosing the caption for your Instagram can be almost as challenging as deciding on a filter. So, if you’re ready to post that Insta, but don’t know what to say, here are 44 lyrics for when you need an Instagram caption.

1. “Be young, be dope, be proud.” - Lana Del Rey, "American"

2. “I can’t really see another squad tryna cross us.” - Drake, "No Tellin’"

3. “Darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” - Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"

4. “I’m throwin' shade like it’s sunny.” - Nicki Minaj, "Want Some More"

5. “I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist.” - Sia, "Chandelier"

6. “Find me where the wild things are.” - Alessia Cara, "Wild Things"

7. “If I was you, I'd wanna be me too.” - Meghan Trainor, "Me Too"

8. “Sweet like candy to my soul, sweet you rock and sweet you roll.” - Dave Matthews Band, "Crash Into Me"

9. “I swear this life is like the sweetest thing I’ve ever known.” - Drake, "Over"

10. “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.” - Lee Ann Womack, "I Hope You Dance"

11. “But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all? - Bastille, "Pompeii"

12. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” - John Lennon, "Imagine"

13. “You can’t choose what stays and what fades away.” - Florence + The Machine, "No Light, No Light"

14. “She acts like summer and walks like rain.” - Train, "Drops of Jupiter

15. “She’s a good girl, loves her mama. Loves Jesus, and America too.” - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Free Fallin’"

16. “Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones.” - Coldplay, "Fix You"

17. “Say you’ll remember me.” - Taylor Swift, "Wildest Dreams"

18. I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart.” - Sia, "Elastic Heart"

19. “Give me the beat boys and free my soul.” - Uncle Kracker, "Drift Away"

20. “One of these days the clocks will stop, and time won’t mean a thing.” - Foo Fighters, "These Days"

21. “Sunshine mixed with a little hurricane.” - Brad Paisley, Perfect Storm

22. “You are the piece of me I wish I didn’t need.” Zedd feat. The Foxes, "Clarity"

23. “Her mind is Tiffany twisted, she’s got the Mercedes bends.” - The Eagles, "Hotel California"

24. “Life imitates art.” - Lana Del Rey, "Gods And Monsters"

25. “Nobody said it was easy, no one said it would be this hard.” - Coldplay, "The Scientist"

26. “You’re gonna keep my soul, it was yours to have long ago.” - State Radio, "Keepsake"

27. “Celebrate we will ‘cause life is short but sweet for certain.” - Dave Matthews Band, "Two Step"

28. “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” - Florence + The Machine, "Shake it Out"

29. “There are many things I’d like to say to you but I don’t know how.” - Oasis, "Wonderwall"

30. “You say you want a revolution, well you know we all wanna change the world.” - The Beatles, "Revolution"

31. “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.” Billy Currington, "People Are Crazy"

32. “Well my heart is gold, and my hands are cold.” - Halsey, "Gasoline"

33. “I don’t want to be heard, I want to be listened to.” - Twenty One Pilots, "Forest"

34. “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” - Mumford and Sons, "Awake My Soul"

35. “I think I need a sunrise, I’m tired of the sunset.” - Augustana, "Boston"

36. “All of these lines across my face tell you the story of who I am.” - Brandi Carlile, "The Story"

37. ‘Ready or not, here I come. Where you at? The night is young.” - Bridgit Mendler, "Ready or Not"

38. “In the land of Gods and Monsters, I was an angel.” - Lana Del Rey, "Gods And Monsters"

39. “Turns out not where, but who you’re with that really matters.” - Dave Matthews Band, "Best Of What’s Around"

40. “Know yourself, know your worth.” - Drake, "0 to 100"

41. “I’m little but I’m coming for the crown.” - Lorde, "Still Sane"

42. “Didn’t they tell you I was a savage?” - Rihanna, "Needed Me"

43. “Hands in the air like we don’t care.” - Miley Cyrus, "We Can’t Stop"

44. “I’ma keep running because a winner don’t quit on themselves.” - Beyonce, "Freedom"

Cover Image Credit: https://pixabay.com

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To The Person Who Feels Bad When They Mess Up Someone's Name

From Someone With a Difficult Name
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Have you ever first met someone online or seen their name first in print and then in person and it's too awkward to introduce yourself again because that relationship has already been built up and you just have to walk in with your hand out and be like "Hi... (insert awkward long pause while you try one last time to decide how the person's name is said) Jay-lee?" and then I say "Jah-lay" and then you feel bad and I feel bad and then it's just kinda awkward as you apologize and I keep saying it's fine. Anyway, I bet even reading this is uncomfortable, so my point is, there's no need for that, and hopefully this makes the next encounter go a little smoother.

So, Hi, my name is Jaleh Shahbazi, and if we were to have an encounter as described above you'd probably be dreading it and fearing that I'll be offended if you get my name wrong or are not even close.

Let me put your fears to rest. I have been alive for twenty years, funnily enough I've also had my name for twenty years (imagine that) and if I've gotten through life and you are the first person in twenty years to say my name wrong then we've just witnessed a miracle folks. After about fifth grade, you kind of get used to people saying your name wrong like your teachers, your friends, and your very American grandfather who could never quite master how to say a Persian name (I know, it's sad, twenty years and my grandpa still can't say it right, boy does that make you look good).

Basically, it's ok. I am not entitled to everyone getting my name right, having it messed up kind of comes with the territory of having a difficult name, if I'm going to be upset with anybody it'd probably be my parents because, honestly, it's just unfair that my sister's names are Jasmine and Rose.

So, please don't be scared when you see or hear a difficult name and don't be afraid to ask what my name is again, I'm not offended that you didn't remember or didn't get it right, I'm touched that you're trying, and really that's all that matters.

Cover Image Credit: Storyblocks

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