Tuesday, January 01, 2008

People skillz

I'm starting to wonder if socializing isn't about acquiring some special conversational skill, but just talking to the right people in the right circumstances. I've had some success having intelligent conversations with certain individuals when it's just the two of us, in a relaxed environment.

Talking to people at parties is doomed to fail, for three reasons: 1) Noise, 2) ostentation and 3) alcohol. Screaming and straining to hear people over the din and music is exhausting and instantly gets me in a bad mood. Item number two refers to the partygoers' need to impress one another, dredging up useless facts, clever jokes and anecdotes or trying to bust a move on the dance floor. I have no such need -- maybe I'm only imagining it in others -- but the fact remains that I feel embarrassed for them and bored by their antics. Of course, other partygoers also consume alcohol, which only aggravates points 1 and 2.

Dinner parties or small get-togethers have their own set of problems. If it's too diverse a group, or if anyone's boss is present, the guests will stick to shallow smalltalk. A few people might dominate the conversation with anecdotes or jokes. Eventually, smaller conversations might spin off, with guests speaking only to the ones sitting closest. Chances are I'll end up next to a conversation I'm not at all interested in. Sports, maybe. Bob Dylan. One might suggest that I move around and sit somewhere else, but if I do muster the energy to stand, I might as well take the opportunity to leave. Besides, there has to be an empty seat next to a very interesting person for me to even bother.

Reading through what I've just written, I realize I'm probably extremely picky. Still, I believe one has the right to choose who one consorts with, even if that ultimately means one is alone.

So, I need a relaxed setting where I can talk to people one-on-one, and both involved actually want to and have time to talk. That's only ever likely to happen at work, and it rather rarely happens there either since people actually do work there. So I guess I'm screwed. Happy New Year!

No comments: