I am not very good at chit-chat.
My husband on the other hand, he could talk the hind leg of anything. Many a time he has come inside from ‘talking with the neighbour over the back fence’ on a weekend with news of the neighbours arthritis medication for their dog, how many children or grandchildren they have with total tooth fairy visits to match, how the whole street handled the last storm without power, how the people before us were a little strange, the new fang dangled kettle that talks to you (??), the silly postman, the lovely lemon trees and the list just goes on. My mind boggles with all these unrelated facts just spilling out of my husbands mouth. On paper, it would look something like this …
a spider web from a very drunk, one-eyed spider.
You see, I am an INTP (introvert, intuition, thinking, perceiving) and I can pretty much guarantee that if you are an INTP you would know it. I mean, you would have already taken the test by now, in fact you would have searched for some explanation on the web until you found a test such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that offers an explanation to your questioning mind. To those who don’t know their type, please do the test and read about your profile. Here is a good place to start however keep in mind this test is accurate if completed with a professional certified in using the MBTI instrument which you can read more about on Myers-Briggs website. But like I said, you can still get a good idea from personality pathways webpage or even searching google.
Back to chit-chat, as most INTPs would know, chit-chat can make an INTP feel uncomfortable. Yes, it is polite and nice to catch up with someone and I am genuinely interested in what people had for dinner last night (I think) or how long it took someone to drive from A to B at a particular time of day on a particular day of the week (this one not so much). Or the new recipe doing the rounds because someone’s aunty described it from her husband’s work colleague’s daughter’s schoolteacher’s sister. It’s not the content that makes me feel uncomfortable, it’s the expected response as I’m never sure if the story has ended or worse still, if the point went over my head. You see, unless there are details explaining why dinner was special last night or what the special engagement was that required calculation and comparison of optional travel routes available or Aunty’s recipe promises to be a winner because she has a knack at finding great recipes that defeat kids picky tastes, then I don’t quite understand what I am supposed to say in response.
Granted, I’m not particularly talkative with newish people, so the other person is scrambling for something to say which I appreciate because that is not my foray. For example, my husband and I are waiting on the deck with 3 other tourists for our sailing captain person man to return after we were all suited up in our harnesses. Well it was uncomfortably quiet, I mean I was excited, it was my first time sailing on a catamaran and it was a gorgeous day with perfect wind and best of all, the kids were at kids club. Soooo, I was excited, why was there silence dam it???? So I just starting blabbing about the first thing that popped into my mind as I finished pretending to be busy with my harness, which happened to be all about my hairy legs. Well more spikey really, not hairy, but that’s beside the point, I’m sure my fellow tourists would prefer to be thinking about anything but my hairy (spikey) legs.
While most people would rationlise a dislike of chit-chat stemming for poor confidence or low-self esteem (such ridiculous terms as I will likely touch on in future), I happen to disagree. I see avoiding chit-chat as doing the other person a favour. I assume people aren’t interested in my mundane life unless I also reveal some meaning, or a great learning experience or epiphany associated with what I am choosing to discuss at great length and if I can’t do that then I go a little quiet or I make jokes about myself instead.
My brother explained to me that people don’t see the mundane things of life as mundane but as life and people like to talk about life. The conversation went something like this…..
Brother: ‘So you see, people not only like to talk about what they ate for dinner last night for example but even more than that, people like to hear about it.’
Me: ‘Hmmm, yes I’ve gathered that but I haven’t worked out why?
Brother: ‘Well, they see it as life, this is what happens in their day and people like to connect.’
Me: ‘Oh, so this is how people connect?’
Brother: ‘Yes, I don’t get it either, I don’t see talking about dinner or peak hour traffic as someone trying to connect with me, but apparently it is.’
Yes my brother is an INTP too.
Note to self, skip the hairy legs and talk about last nights dinner. Second note to self, try to remember what you ate for dinner, perhaps repeat to self 10 times before going to bed ready for some connect time the following day.
So, my point? People don’t generally see chit-chat as mundane but real life. I am very grateful for that because if it weren’t for the chit-chat experts directing the conversation on perfectly acceptable and normal topics, who knows what would come out of my mouth.
On to a more practical note … below is my favourite drawing from the week. It isn’t finished but I’m too scared to try and finish it hence I ruin it so just squint and it will look finished. I am awaiting my mums critique, and yours too…