small talk theory

People abhor small talk, but I think it serves some functions:

  1. Verbal competence: Small talk shows that you are minimally able to carry out a conversation. If you can’t wing the weather, what else can’t you talk about?
  2. Community membership: If you talk orgtheory, then you’re definitely part of the “in” crowd.
  3. Ability signal: Witty small talk shows intelligence.
  4. Information: Sometimes your partner really doesn’t know what the weather is like. They really appreciate hearing about it from you.
  5. Social construction of reality: Small talk and gossip help people define what is real for that group.
  6. Status signals: Choice of topic in small talk can be used to assert and manage status.
  7. Friendship ritual: Small talk is a precursor to stronger relationships.
  8. Hidden Identity Game: You can use small talk to drop subtle hints about your hidden identity.
  9. Institutional maintanence: If you small talk with others at work, you signal acceptance of the order of your firm.
  10. Normative Experiment: Use small talk to test out ideas at low cost.

By the way, the weather was delightful in Ann Arbor today.

Written by fabiorojas

August 1, 2008 at 12:13 am

Posted in fabio, sociology

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