I wish I could make small talk, an Aspie recently confided to me.
Whether we’re visiting family, in a workplace or out with friends, small talk can feel like treacherous ground for an Aspie. In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen, I show how impossible it was for me as a teen to make small talk with girls my age.
Nowadays there’s an excellent resource book, Dr. Bernardo Carducci’s Pocket Guide_To Making Successful Small Talk.
And the subtitle is encouraging, too: How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere About Anything.
Some tidbits? Be nice but not brilliant. You’re not trying to wow people, just converse politely.
Practice your very brief introduction speech. Hi, I’m George and I haven’t met you yet.
Join in the conversation with a brief remark on the current topic. If there is no topic, you are initiating conversation, current events are good.
Rather than just abruptly leaving the conversation, part with There’s someone I must speak with, please excuse me. Or, I must go, but it’s been really nice meeting you.
I blew a conversation today. You’d think at my age, I have it all figured out by now. But I don’t.
I was in Starbucks waiting for my latte when a woman remarked that she liked my scarf. I don’t wear them, she said, but that looks really good on you.
Thank you, I said.
So far, so good. My latte came and I went over to the counter where they have the nutmeg, lids and other goodies. The woman happened to be just putting the lid on her drink.
If you decide to get one for some one else, I said, and proceeded to tell her, in boring detail where the shop was, the name of the shop, how close it is to Super Store and how very inexpensive the scarves are there.
The one person I know who wears scarves, has lots, she said, and quickly left the store.
I do know how to handle a compliment. I have told myself about a hundred times. On the way out to the car, I reminded myself again:
If someone compliments you on something? Just say thank you. Leave it at that.
Unless they go on to ask you about the item. Then, you can say one something about it. Just two or three sentences at most.
The idea is to intrigue people into conversations. Not trap them.