Wednesday, October 03, 2007

2 years ago I wrote....

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to engage in small talk?

Generally speaking, I am very shy.
There are certain situations that compel me to overcome my bashfulness and be more amenable.
One of those scenarios would be my job. There is quite a bit of communication over the telephone and an occasional meeting with someone outside of the office.
Then there is the cashier or other store personnel of a retail or grocery store. I believe in always giving a smile and at least asking them how their day is going.
Of course, there is the wait staff at restaurants. The service you receive can be impacted by your personable skills.
In addition, there are many other social settings, gatherings, parties etc. that being timid is not beneficial.

If I am presented with the opportunity of meeting someone new, I try to embrace it. The ritual of meeting someone new, a lot of times, involves being introduced to a stranger by someone you know. Having a familiar face near you in this situation tends to make the encounter easier.
However, there are times in your life that you must go unaccompanied into the world. This is where your superior ability of social skills (the gift of gab) behooves you. You are able to make a choice of either being a wallflower ~ totally ignored, or you can be the social butterfly ~ the life of the party. We all know that being the life of the party is way more fun. So, if there is any way possible, the introvert should be out.

Nevertheless, there is one situation where I always feel the most uncomfortable. The level of uncomfortable ness can even vary from each instance.
This would be the elevator ride.
The elevator takes me to my work place destination on a daily basis, even several times a day.
The first scenario is the approach to the elevator. Sometimes, there is someone or several people standing in the lobby waiting for the arrival of the elevator. When you arrive to join the other person (or group of people), there is either silence or the beginnings of your small talk…
“good morning”, “how are you today”, “well, it’s hump day, middle of the week”, “hi, gosh I am glad it’s Friday”, “wow, the weather sure has been hot lately”, “it sure is taking a while for the elevator, I wonder if it’s working”, “oh, here it comes, I think this is the only one working today”.
I can’t stand that small talk. You are just there, on your own, with no friend to share the stiffness with.
Sometimes, while on your way to the elevator, someone has already stepped on and you are not sure if they are holding it or not. You need to make the decision whether you are going to hustle there in time to jump on or have the door close in your face. When you make the decision to not hustle, that seems to be the time someone will stick their head out of the doors and say “Going up?” Then you reply as you pick up the pace, “Oh yes, I wasn’t sure if you were holding it or not”.
Now for the actual ride itself.
If you are on the elevator by yourself, you wonder if you will make it to your floor without stopping to let on a new arrival.
TWO, THREE, Ding, STOP, doors open, in walks an unfamiliar person.
Have you ever noticed how people look up when confined in that small shaft? What are they looking at? Sometimes, you will see people looking down, but mostly up. So, I try to look right at a person. (If you have read my profile, I don’t like predictability in a person). I don’t do it to make someone else uncomfortable, but because I feel uncomfortable doing what everyone else is doing (looking up).
Ok, stay with me now.
Someone has walked in, the doors close and you proceed to your destination. Who is going to break the ice? It feels way too strange to be in such a small place with another person (strange person) and no one says a word. Is silence more uncomfortable than the meaningless small talk? YES!
So, here goes… "Hi, how are you?” “Fine, how are you?” “Good…well, the day is half way over now, I’m glad” “Yeah, me too”…….FIVE, SIX, Ding (oh yea, my floor) STOP, doors open, “Ok, have a good day!” “You too!”
Whew! That is over, thank goodness.
See what I mean?
I mean, no one would ever be able to tell that I feel completely uncomfortable in that situation, but underneath, oh yes, I truly do! I think the uncomfortable feeling is compounded by the fact that the other person (people) appears awkward and uneasy.
That is kind of tough for someone that is shy by nature.
All in all, I enjoy talking to people, but that meaningless small talk with a stranger is not easy, especially in the confines of an elevator.
Most of the time, the more you are exposed to a situation the easier it gets.
Not the elevator ride!

Two years later.....the small talk in an elevator still makes me uneasy. I will usually say something, look at the other people (while they are looking above the doors at the floor numbers light up as the elevator goes up or down), or say nothing until I am about to exit, then I say "have a good day".

I hope all of you have a good day!
Lee Ann


BKS said...

I hate riding elevators cause mine never seem to reach the top.........oh ....wait a minute....

I am not a very social creature around people I do not know and agree that small talk is usually sent but seldom replied to anymore.

Have a good day!!

EBEZP said...

Well me as you know BG will talk to anyone at anytime and nothing embarrasses me but then that's me, and I would heve said the same two years ago too.
Take care BG

jiggs said...

I hate smalltalk in the elevator too. And people always say the same stuff. "Put your pants back on!" "You're a sick pervert!" "Get away from my wife!"

angel, jr. said...

Is it weird that I have no problesm talking to strangers, but once I get passed the stranger and start to develop a friendship that I sometimes feel awkward, like the more a person gets to know me, the more I feel defensive and uncomfortable. I think that it is because I feel once they get to know me, they'll find I'm really not that interesting after all.

Osbasso said...

What's worse is the elevator that has mirrored walls. No place to look, no place to hide, no way to see everyone who's scoping you out at the same time...

Menzies Milngavie III said...

I say!

What excellent advice. HotBoy could certainly learn a thing or two from your social skills advice.


Neo said...

Lee Ann - Hmmmm even worse is when you say "How you doin'?" to someone and they just ignore you. As if "Fine," would hurt their tongues to utter. Personally I like being on the elevator on my own it gets me where I'm going faster without the weird silence.

Peace & Hugs,

- Neo

rob said...

I deal with the embarrassment by focussing on something else, like trying hard to hold in the flatulence.

Michael Manning said...

All of this is so true, Lee Ann. When I was a corporate trainer who taught people to give better presentations in front of a group, one of the assignments I gave them was to stand squarely face to face with whomever they are talking to. Even in grocery lines, I'd tell them to have both arms at their sides and practice standing sqaurely forward. :D) Great post!

green said...

I usually will not say anything in the elevator scenario, except to ask someone to press a floor button for me if they are standing right in front of the buttons.

Ian said...

You should not be shy little girl.

Let Charlie teach you words.

melanie said...

Hi Lee Ann,
I am none to good with small talk either but am getting better. I suppose it depends on the other person too. I had a great plane journey over on the way to US, sat next to a really lovely woman who was great with small talk and had a laugh too.. On the way back though I sat next to a guy who I hardly knew was there...
As for elevators..well, I tend to look down and hope I don't pass wind....that would be a conversation started I suppose though...:)
Take care

Phil Cregg said...

don't be shy baby i get like that sometimes i just drink about to 40s and i'm good to go.

Phats said...

I talk to strangers everywhere never been shy, have a great weekend

John Bryson said...

I think its easiest if you say something right away...just a simple hi, hows it going, followed by a deep sigh......

David Amulet said...

Sorry I missed your earlier festivities, it's been a busy couple of weeks.

As for elevator talk, the best take on this was an old SNL episode with Sting. I wonder if it's on YouTube.

-- david

Meanie the baby dragon said...

Me hav an ideeuh fow u Lee Ann! U kan du whut me duz! Wen me in uh elohvatoh me whizzowz! Me whizzowz duh song: Sing uh Song! hehehe

Gyrobo said...

Don't try to fake a seizure. It always ends badly, and paramedics are horrible conversationalists.

Dave Morris said...

My favorite elevator small-talk is discussing the fart I just cut.

Kidding, I don't fart.

Hey, I haven't been at the castle for a while, life's been busy. I love what you've done to the place.