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Small talk, a challenge for HSP

Between a world that never stops talking, and that of highly sensitive people who never stop thinking, there is silence. The silence that we love so much because it calms our overstimulation and allows us to recharge. I couldn't say that all highly sensitive people hate small talk, but it's one of their characteristics, and it's certainly one of mine. I don't like “cheap chat”. But why would we want that?

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Gossip requires an incredible amount of energy that isn't really necessary because it doesn't give us anything in return. Thinking of things to say so as not to appear completely disinterested, racking your brain for questions to show a little attention, still following the conversation to nod or smile at the right moment, it's exhausting . Much more difficult to do than talking about important, exciting, deep, interesting subjects that put our neurons into action.

Chatter is meaningless, repetitive, and highly sensitive people cannot tolerate uselessness. We have nothing against superficial subjects, if from superficiality we quickly move to depth, but chatter does not allow this transition. It stays in the cackling stage, as if to avoid being confronted with silence, and even more to avoid looking at the parts of us we try to hide.

Small talk forces us to think quickly about things that don't interest us, which requires energy.

Small talk is boring. We never discover anything interesting about someone through futile discussions, except that these people like to stay on the surface of topics, making a lot of noise and showing a lot of agitation, which is intolerable for a highly sensitive person.

Chatter bothers us because we are too busy thinking, feeling, and noticing, to talk about the weather.

Small talk doesn't allow us to do what we love. Put us in the middle of long, deep conversations, and we'll be in our element. Having this type of environment nourishes our authenticity, and our soul. At that moment, you will discover a highly sensitive person who is laughing, passionate, involved... talkative!

Put us at the center of cheap discussions, and you'll have a bored scowl.

So it's not that we don't like small talk, but we enjoy it after we deepen it.

Small talk is also full of “non-questions,” rhetorical questions meant to keep us in suspense, except that it doesn’t really, because there’s nothing exciting about small talk. Still, we try our best to answer these questions (which aren't questions), and again, we draw on our energy to find an answer that makes sense. All this to realize that the person does not care about our response, on the contrary, they leave us with the impression of having annoyed them, disturbed them.

How do you know that a question is a non-question? While you're answering, the person who asked the question seems really exasperated and eager for you to finish, cuts you off, or gives you the impression that they just wanted to hear themselves talking...

Finally, chatter kills the beautiful silence. And highly sensitive people love silence.

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Highly sensitive people can talk…

…but it doesn’t mean they like it. It is even one of the activities that they fear the most because they have an inclination for rich and meaningful experiences in life. Not only do they absorb a large amount of information which they process in depth, but they often have a very rich inner life which makes them introspective and contemplative. So, of course, they like in-depth conversations. This allows them to share their internal thoughts and feel connected to others in a meaningful way.

This does not mean that all their conversations have to be philosophical, spiritual or metaphysical. Listening to someone speak passionately about their work, or another person vulnerably sharing their suffering, ignites their hearts and delights their spirits. Be authentic, vulnerable and deep, and they will listen to you in a very active, interested and compassionate way.

On the other hand, chatter that only scratches the surface is, for HSPs, an avalanche of boring platitudes. This simply doesn't fit with the desire that they have to truly know the inner workings of another human being.

On top of that, social situations are often too stimulating for highly sensitive people, so if they are forced to participate in meaningless discussions, they may feel uncomfortable and anxious.

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Take away

I understand why small talk exists. It will always exist. When it is not continuous, it can be of interest, especially when you meet a person for the first time, a colleague in the corridors, the neighbor on the landing, etc.

Still, I'd love to live in a world where we could all straight up become everyone's best friends to avoid the gossiping stage that happens at the start of every relationship, but of course that's not possible. Without small talk to “get to know each other”, other more meaningful relationships would not flourish, so we have to go through that. What is distressing is that after this stage, there are nevertheless certain relationships which only exist at the chatting stage, and which never take off any further. It's a shame.

I would also love to live in a world where silence is valued as much as speech. But we don't live in that world. So, even if small talk is a challenge for HSP, we have to accept it. Polite chatter is a necessary evil in our society, and it is part of the mask we wear to be socially accepted.

And you never know what nice surprises may be hidden on the other side of this dreaded chatter. Sometimes it's nothing, but other times it's a new highly sensitive friend!


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