Don't Know What To Talk About? Here's Why...
Have you ever heard a conversation between two or more outgoing people?
They have the most pointless conversations imaginable.
Celebrity gossip. The stupid trash movie they saw last week (that really isn’t all that funny). Comments about other boring people they know. Or nothing at all. They just talked on and on and seem to even enjoy it. They say almost nothing of substance and everyone else seems to love them for it.
While you can barely keep a relatively interesting conversation going.
Maybe you’ve listened in on one of these conversations, and come to the realization that maybe you don’t talk because you have nothing in common with these people. You don’t want to be lonely, but can’t ever imagine being part of such a pointless discussion. How can you add something interesting to a conversation that is about nothing?
But you have to be able to talk about nothing if you want to be socially successful. And, as you’ll soon find out, it won’t make you less intelligent.
What Should I Talk About?
The question: “What should I talk about?” is the wrong one. Did you really believe people talk about stuff that actually matters?
They don’t, and for a good reason.
Most people have nothing real interesting to say. They just don’t know enough to be able to talk about fascinating subjects all the time. Maybe I’m a pessimist in this way, but most people aren’t even that intelligent.
But that doesn’t stop them from having friends. Or girlfriends and boyfriends. Or a social life. It actually helps.
Talking about nothing helps people have a better social life for one not-so-obvious reason. Most people spend a lot of time talking throughout the day. With many different people, about their new cat, vacation in Fiji and creepy neighbour. How many of those conversations do you think they remember?
People Don’t Remember Most Conversations They Have
The trap many shy people fall into is thinking that every conversation they have has to be interesting and important. They obsess about some small conversation they had with someone for days, thinking about what they said, what they could have said, what they did right and wrong, and what they’re going to say to the person the next time they see them. Tell me, how much has the other person thought of the conversation?
They’ve probably forgotten about it entirely. Because they had plenty of other conversations, and pressing issues, and events that happened to them. In the end, one little conversation means nothing in the grand scheme of things, at least it shouldn’t.
That’s why no matter what you say to someone in the average conversation, they will almost 100% certainly forget it within a few days. Because of this, you don’t have to have something particularly interesting to say. You just need to say something.
People don’t remember what you said, but they do remember that you had something to say. In the end, you can talk about interesting stuff, or “nothing”. Nothing is much easier.
Why Should I Want To Talk About Nothing, Anyway?
Good question. Maybe you feel like you just don’t want to waste time talking about nothing. You would rather spend your energy finding people who you can have interesting conversations with, learning about your favorite hobby, enjoying your favorite video game or changing the world. These are all great things to do, and you should definitely do what you want to.
But you should also find time to make small talk with people and socialize. This gives you much different feelings than other activities ever could. It brings balance to your life, makes you feel connected to other human beings and most importantly, it is what we were meant to do naturally.
You’re supposed to be able to make conversation naturally and talk about almost anything, except your shyness gets in the way.
Fortunately, there are several techniques you can use to make words flow out of your mouth like water in a stream, many helped me overcome my own shyness immensely.
How Do I Talk About Nothing?
Did you ever see someone you’d like to say “Hello” to, and then proceed to play out exactly how you’re going to say it and what funny remark you’re going to say?
Don’t do that. First of all, it’s too much effort to think through everything you’re going to say. It’s like having a “filter” between a brain and your mouth, only letting through the few remarks that pass your high standards.
You have to stop thinking about what you’re going to say before you say it. Don’t think when you’re talking. Don’t decide on what you’re going to say.
Keep your mind completely blank, and just let whatever wants to come out, come out.
Essentially, what you’re doing is making talking subconscious. You stop relying on your brain and start relying on your instincts and “gut feeling”. You no longer have to actively think about or worry about what you’re going to say next. This does take some getting used to, but soon find small talk a breeze and actually really FUN!
What To Do When Talking
When you’re talking, you have to be in the moment.
Shy people are usually off in their own little head (I would know) thinking about something they just said, how funny or horrible it was. Or they’re worrying about what they’re going to have to say next, how to sound more natural and not make things awkward.
This is the worst thing you could possibly do if you want to have a natural conversation.
It’s because of this that you sometimes run out of things to say. It isn’t like you have nothing to say. You have a whole lifetime of experiences and knowledge. The real problem is not what to say, but being so focused on what to say next, that you think it has to be funny and interesting and witty.
The truth is, people don’t remember most conversations, so it’s useless having something great to say every time it is your turn to talk. Instead, you have to practice speaking without thinking. This lets you relax and enjoy conversations, being able to say whatever “feels” right.
To be able to do this, you can’t be thinking 10 seconds into the future or 10 seconds into the past. You have to be in the moment.
“What If I Say Something Stupid?”
If you don’t run through whatever you’re going to say in your head, how do you know what you’re actaully going to say?
You don’t. You just have to trust that over many years of conversation and hearing other people talk, you have enough knowledge to be able to come up with what to say automatically. This takes a leap of faith at the beginning.
You’ve been thinking about what to say for so long, that just talking without a filter will seem unnatural at first. Trust me, it’s much easier and it’s how most people talk.
“How Do I Stop Thinking?”
I've written an article on this called "Is Thinking Too Much Keeping You Shy?"
“I’m Too Smart.”
Maybe you still think “regular people” are too different from you. You couldn’t be more wrong.
There are plenty of very smart and social people out there. You being smart and shy has nothing to do with you being a genius, you’ve just gotten into the habit of not talking. And you can break habits.
Here’s What I Do When Meeting New People
Have you ever seen someone you’d like to meet? Maybe it was an attractive girl or guy you really liked, or someone at your work.
If you’re like I used to be, you think about what you could say when you approach them. You think of what would make them think you were funny and interesting. Usually you spend all your time thinking, and make yourself so nervous, that you end up never approaching them. Does that sound like you?
Recently, I modified the tips I shared above to these situations. Now I can approach and meet just about anyone and strike up a conversation, even a stranger off the street.
This is what I do now: When I see someone I want to meet, I give myself 3 seconds to walk over to them. I don’t hesitate, and don’t think for even a second. I keep my mind completely blank and trust that I’m going to have something to say. Sometimes it’s as simple as: “Hi, I’m Sean”, and you wouldn’t believe some of the other things I’ve come up with on the spot!
And the best part is, you wouldn’t believe how fun this is! After a couple of times getting rejected, you start getting confident. [I'll write an article on confidence soon.]
The secret is to not think. You don’t know what you’re going to say, and that’s okay.
So here’s a list of the main points I’ve covered:
- It doesn’t matter what you talk about because people forget most conversations completely a few days after they happen.
- It’s a lot easier to let yourself talk naturally, without “filtering” what you’re going to say next.
- You have to be in the moment, not thinking about what happened 10 seconds ago or what you should say 10 seconds in the future.
- You have to build the habit of relying on your subconscious mind or instincts to come up with the right thing to say automatically.
- Most people have no idea what’s going to come out of their mouth, even as they’re talking. That’s the level you want to be at.
Next time you’re in a conversation, don’t think. You want to get this down so well that you don’t even have to think about not thinking, it just comes naturally.
Yours in Social Success,
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