big talk verses small talk

Ahhhh … New Year’s Resolutions … i actually am a big fan of them yes, i don’t kid around — i set goals for each year and then i check up on the goals every quarter and track how i am doing against these goals.

some are business goals (like revenues for my company, Stonebrick). some are more personal goals.

this year, one of my most innovative resolutions is to limit small talk and concentrate on big talk?  how, you ask?   i have no idea how i’m actually going to be able to move the average cocktail conversation to big talk … but i am going to try.   i imagine i’ll piss off a few people in the process … but no pain, no gain.

i came away thinking that we spend too much of our time on small talk.  especially people that spend most of their professional time selling (like myself).  instead of asking someone i just met "where do you live?" or "where did you grow up?" or "what do you do?" i might to try to stir the pot a little …

check back with me next quarter and i’ll let you know if this little experiment is successful …

2 thoughts on “big talk verses small talk

  1. hunter

    >> instead of asking someone i just met “where do you live?” or “where did you grow up?” or “what do you do?” i might to try to stir the pot a little …
    This is my approach and I’ve had some interesting reactions and feedback. A portion of the folks I engage this way feel that it accelerates the intimacy of our relationship (we “connected”) by making our initial meeting more than a trivial interaction. However, this also creates an implied obligation to continue to deepen the relationship which for, various reasons, isn’t always possible. The net result is the individual feels judged or abandoned (you engaged them in some meaningful conversation and then rejected them). Since this is never my intent, it was a blind spot in understanding how others feel.
    So I guess to be pithy, big talk sometimes implies big things.

  2. Peter Harter

    Which version of talk supports friendship enrichment?
    January 30, 2005
    Not So Pleased to Meet You
    We met on the phone over work. Next thing I knew we were having lunch. Then we had lunch again. Then there were phone calls to return from her and favors to do for each other. By the summer I suggested not planning lunch until the fall. Now we’re finished, from what I can tell, and I’m relieved it didn’t turn into a full-blown friendship.
    Once upon a time, when everyone was young and still finding a way into careers and social circles, new friends were a delightful boon. Ah, the hopeful rush of it, like the first blush of love, before the reality of attending each other’s birthday dinners at pricey restaurants and returning calls about career disappointments sets in.
    It still happens against better judgment, but it’s a prickly proposition to make new friends at a certain point in life.
    “It’s not that I don’t have room,” said Jerry Della Femina, the adman and restaurateur, who has had a weekly lunch with the same six friends for 23 years. “It’s just that I don’t want any more.” Maybe he isn’t sure of their motives. Just like the president and first lady (who was recently quoted as saying, “I’m not trying to let people get to know me”), Mr. Della Femina is someone who has things to offer, like jobs, parties and access to reservations hard to come by. That means that, like the president, he can trust only his oldest friends.
    “Let’s face it, we’re all a little suspicious of strangers,” he said.
    Not to mention people you haven’t heard from in years. Sara Nelson, the new editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, has been getting notes, flowers and gifts from people who suddenly want to catch up with her over lunch or dinner.
    “How can we have room for new friends when we hardly have room for old ones?” she said. Well, Henry Adams, the historian whose grandfather was John Quincy Adams, had it right. “One friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, three are hardly possible,” he said.
    Maybe that’s because, unlike family, whose needs are nonnegotiable, and unlike a spouse, whom many single people will seek to find by any means, friends seem expendable in the hierarchy of social needs.
    They also take work.
    “Friendship is a pretty full-time occupation,” Truman Capote once said.
    Which is why in a society as careerist as ours work associations have replaced the intimacy of real friendships. Suzanne Gluck, co-head of the literary department at William Morris, said she can get through a whole season thinking she has been socializing with her friends, when they are actually just her colleagues. “Who has time for anyone else?” she asked.
    Maybe it all just comes down to functionality. What do you need friends for? Not to pick you up at the airport. That’s what drivers are for. Not for lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on about your spouse. That’s what therapists are for. Not to bring you groceries when you are sick in bed – there’s Fresh Direct for that- and not even for attending your party with bells on, unless you’re Donald Trump marrying in Palm Beach.
    The last time I tried to give a big birthday party for myself, so that all my wonderful friends could get to know one another, half didn’t show up. And heaven help the friend who tries to get me to stick around the city on the weekend for a party.
    Yet, according to all the studies cited in a Time magazine article on happiness, friends do matter, and strong personal relationships guarantee a satisfying life.
    O.K., fine. But if old friends don’t have a night to see you until March because they are too busy working, traveling, practicing yoga or spending quality time with the kids, you have to wonder if a law of diminishing social returns kicks in as life goes on.
    Maybe the only reason to have new friends is to replace old ones.
    The one, for instance, I’ve gone out of my way to support in all kinds of ways over the years, who gave me a hard time for not attending her party in Brooklyn on a Friday night last fall, when I wanted to be in the country for the weekend.
    “You have your priorities,” she sniffed at me via e-mail.
    Yes I do. And one is to have friends who know what they are.
    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


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