Yesterday at work a guy said to me, “Stay warm!” as he was leaving and it got me thinking. We say all these random things to people all the time to come off as polite. We make small talk. And for some reason, the weather is such a popular topic. Honestly, I find it annoying. For goodness sakes, stop with the weather talk! I’m well aware of how cold or hot it is outside and telling me to “stay warm” is certainly not going to make a little heater follow me around or “stay dry” make me water repellant.
And I know what some of you are probably thinking. “But they’re just being nice, trying to make conversation. You’re being too literal.” But I think it’s time we stop using that excuse to talk about nonsense. There are so many other more interesting things that you can say to someone. I think the old adage “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all” can be applied quite nicely here. Substitute ‘good’ with any of the following adjectives: interesting, useful, pertinent, amusing, fascinating, thought-provoking, insightful, intriguing, riveting, stimulating, or entertaining.
For once, I’d like to hear about something that will actually add value to my life. Or at the very least something I’ll find more useful than info I can get by either stepping outside or opening the weather app on my phone. Tell me something interesting. Tell me about a piece of news you heard recently. Tell me a funny fact you read on a Snapple cap. Tell me the reason you had a smile or frown on your face when you walked through the door. Tell me something real. Just remember, you’re under no obligation to say something to every person you come across. But please do not just talk to be polite.
Sometimes I feel like people are afraid of silence. They find it awkward. They feel like they have to be interacting. They don’t want to come off as rude. So they come up with all this filler stuff. They start talking just for the sake of talking. But what is the point of that? When you ask random people, “How are you?”, how often do you even actually care how they’re doing?
I think it’s time for a culture shift. I’d like to see people become more genuine, more real. Make an interaction with someone more of an interaction. Make it mutual. Ask real questions. Show your true self a little bit more. You might be surprised at the outcome. And if you don’t feel like engaging in a conversation with someone, that’s ok too. Smile (or frown) and go on with your day.