5 Creative Ways to Avoid Small Talk


I take the act of avoiding small talk as seriously as the pentagon does counter-terrorism.  It’s not like I ever have anywhere important to be, but it still grinds my ass when someone tries to impede the process of me getting from point A to point B.  Point A is where I am now, point B is where I’d like to be in the near future, and standing between the two hypothetical points is motor-mouth Marty.

Pass the Dramamine.  Hold the Drama.

Pass the Dramamine. Hold the Drama.

Listening to someone with irritable-mouth syndrome is like winding up a pair of those chattering teeth toys.  Five minutes of watching someone’s head bob back and fourth, their hands mimicking every word spewing from their mouths, and I’m reaching for the Dramamine.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of useless information, and I find it troublesome to know how many twits are wandering around, aimlessly in search of someone to sort out their lives for them – free of charge.  This just in:  I’m not your  psychologist.  However, based on the information that I just learned about you (against my free will), I’d highly recommend consulting one.

It’s a predator versus prey world and preparedness is the key to surviving it.

Here’s a handy how-to guide to help identify and fight back against these persistent blabber-mouths:    

The Bragger

This kind of talker insures you’ll walk away from the conversation feeling like an absolute failure at life. A few steps in the other direction and you’ll already be reassessing your weak retirement plan, lousy career path — maybe even contemplating marriage counseling.  He’s god’s gift to humanity, and failure is a foreign concept to him.

His impressive life resume backs it up.

Just another day in the life of a Bragger.

Just another day in the life of a Bragger.

How to combat a Bragger:

Never attempt to one-up a bragger.  Any attempt to do so will be countered with more bragging.  Your best bet is to just lie down and play dead – figuratively of course (literal translation my lead to bigger problems).  Appear dejected.  After all, that’s what he wants:  to make you feel like a turd on the bottom of his shoe.

The key to beating a Bragger is to let him beat you.  The quicker he destroys your dignity, the better your odds of getting home in time for Wheel of Fortune.

Storyteller Steve

Whenever I hear the phrase, let me tell you a quick story, I can immediately deduce from it two things:   1.)  This is going to be anything but quick, and/or 2.)  I won’t be interested in whatever bullshit you are itching to ramble about.  Storyteller Steve is always well-traveled and lives to tell tall-tales.  None of them are true.

Give him a pull-start and he’ll blab forever about the time he caught a narwhal out on a Baltic Sea expedition, or about his pickle farming venture back in Utah.

How to combat Storyteller Steve:

Timing is everything with this type, and the remedy must be administered before the onset of the story.  When the person uses the phrase “let me tell you a story”, place your hand on your pocket quickly, then reach for your phone.  Place your pointer finger in the air as if to say, “one second please”.  Then, hold a mock conversation with the imaginary person on the other end, using words and phrases that imply an urgent matter of some kind.  Example words/phrases to use are:  “Now?” or “You’ll be there in ten minutes?” or “He died?”

Pretend to end the call and politely excuse yourself from the conversation.

Story Teller Steve's Alaskan Pike Fishing Trip.

Story Teller Steve’s Alaskan Pike Fishing Trip.

 

Too Much Information Guy

These types will share every intimate detail of their lives with complete strangers.  Medical procedures, incontinence issues, a rocky divorce – anything goes.  Listening to this type makes me feel like a nurse or a psychologist.  I always feel like I should be seated in a leather chair while jotting notes on a yellow legal pad.  Be grateful that I’m not your therapist.  If I were, I would probably suggest a few unorthodox ways of treating your issues.

Tissue?

How to combat Too Much Information Guy:

This type is extremely fragile, so you don’t want to do anything to further upset him/her.  Your best bet is to act concerned about the problem, then suggest they seek a professional opinion immediately.  Reiterate the urgency part.  If possible, dial the phone number of whatever service they are in need of and hand them the phone.

Political Pete

Being that it’s another election year (oh goody), Political Pete is out trudging the campaign trail in massive numbers.  He enjoys collecting bumper stickers and yard signs, spreading political e-mails, and trying to convert citizens of the opposite party.  Most of these idiots don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to sound like a fox news correspondent.  Flinging mud and spreading false information is what Political Pete does best.

Whenever approached, avoid eye contact.

How to combat Political Pete:

Whatever you do, do not express your political views.  Doing so will further extend the conversation and add fuel to the debate.  In the past I’ve recommended people void themselves from the conversation by stating that they are not a U.S. citizen, which would implicate that said person does not have voting rights.  However, this information is outdated, and may lead to an altercation if he/she is a supporter of the national rifle association, and/or a resident of the state of Texas.

The most current and effective method for dealing with Political Pete is simple:  ask him to provide you with a bumper sticker, then run hightail it in the opposite direction while he’s digging through the trunk.

The power of Christ compels you!

The power of Christ compels you!

 

Religious Rick

Having to listen to someone’s uppity, know-it-all banter about the after-life makes me want to send that person there myself.  If you’re that giddy about whatever comes next then why the hell are you wasting your time here?  God, if you’re listening to me right now, please let the floor open up under Religious Rick the next time he’s standing in front of me.

He desperately wants to meet you.

How to Combat Religious Rick:

This one is a bit more dramatic, but it’s a lot of fun when executed properly.  Make sure you know the person’s name before you begin.  While the person is conducting their sermon, drop to the ground and begin thrashing around like you’re possessed.  Add flair by cussing and spitting, and if possible, try to foam at the mouth.  Finally, cap it off by yelling gibberish, and be sure to use the person’s name during your performance.

Before you can wipe the spittle from your chin, Religious Rick will be running for the holy water.

I know from experience.

*****

- On guard, Chowderheads \m/

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113 comments

  1. littleredwolf87

    What about those people when they call you and say ” oh sorry I haven’t called I had blah, blah, blah and bah to do.” they go on how busy they are like its some sort of competition who has less of a life. Those people really piss me off.

  2. coconutspeak

    The last time Johovah’s Witnesses came to my door was wrong, rude and totally worth it. They asked if I could spare some time to talk about God. I said sure, but they had to give me equal time to talk about Satan. With that, they ran off and I haven’t seen them since.

  3. singlegirlie

    I’ve got one – Drama Diane. She’s TMI guy’s first cousin. She spends hours discussing every minute detail of her problem du jour, which can range from why Randy didn’t text her back to how she thinks her therapist is judging her. Yes, she has a therapist, but still feels compelled to burden everyone else with her problems. And of course, she couldn’t be bothered asking how your life is. So tell me, sir, how to deal with double D?

    BTW, love “irritable mouth syndrome.” I do believe it’s an epidemic.

    • Adam S

      Thanks so much! Completely agree with you — IMS is the new swine flu –> Substitute surgical masks with a set of earplugs… Oh by the way, according to my flow chart, Diane’s big brother is Bar Fight Billy — super douche.

      I have a lot of ideas for dealin’ with Dirty-D, but there’s no way I could rip her better than you. I’ve read a lot of your stuff so I know first hand that if there’s anyone that can set the bitch in her place, it would be you. **Corny Special Request Alert** Will you pretty please do a post on her? Guaranteed Reblog — I’ll even bake you cupcakes…

  4. Rosie Baillie

    I used to have a ‘Too Much Information Girl’/general nosy cow sit next to me on the bus, despite my headphones she never understood that I didn’t want to be spoken to at 8 in the morning and I certainly didn’t care about how her boss spoke to her at work yesterday, why she was always going to leave, the ins and outs of her friends lives and her latest trip to the doctors.

  5. Katie

    At work I’ve got a Story Repeater. She’s already told me some story, and she starts telling it all over again later in the week, so I inform her, “Oh yeah, I remember you telling me that.” …Only she’ll continue with it, adding on new (uninteresting) details as she goes. As of yet, I haven’t figured out how to combat this type.

    • Adam S

      Alright Katie, if you’ve never seen the movie Fatal Attraction, get your hands on it tonight. You need to become Glenn Close if you’re gonna squash the stinky stories. In order to ditch her, start obsessing about her stories the next time she spews off about something. Bother her all day long, every day, to repeat the story — beg her for more details. Get her phone number and call her about it after work. Tell any and every coworker you can about the story while she’s within earshot. The key is to keep walking that fine line between genuinely interested and nut-bag crazy. In a matter of 3 or 4 days she’ll be hiding from you — maybe even considering filing a restraining order against you…Either way works for me!

  6. jennsmidlifecrisis

    People who make me feel guilty…they do more, they are in worse shape, they are saving the world while I sit home and eat bon-bons (I’m not, but you get the point)! Will take your advice next time I’m stuck with any of the above verbally-incontinent individuals. Thanks!

    • Adam S

      I definitely get the point — that’s what inspired the post. Fuck those people! Thanks so much for reading Jenn, and good luck with your mid-life meltdown — let me know if I can help in the future, throw it in the suggestion box haha!

    • Adam S

      Thanks! I’m good for a one-liner now and then ;) I know a lot of people that are suffering from it. Too many. However, without their condition, I wouldn’t have been able to write this. Thank you fuckers for the inspiration!

      • crpeterson

        Ahh good point. Sometimes when I’m at work and surrounded by the IMS people I pretend that I am in a sitcom and I am the main character who is surrounded by terrible people. When I can try and view them in a character-type comedic light, it is more bearable haha. Just coping mechanisms I guess, in addition to writing about them!

      • Adam S

        Completely agree. My philosophy: “Whenever you find yourself in an awkward, uncomfortably gross situation, always stick it out for the story. The weirder the situation, the better the story.” Don’t EVER forget that piece of advice, especially you being a writer!

      • desertrose7

        Well, from my experience teenage boys seem to have chronic vocal constipation. At least I think thats the underlying reason for those grunting sounds my son makes.

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  8. nrhatch

    Sass and Balderdash pointed the way here . . . what a hoot!

    My favorite are the people who can jump in and solve my problems in 5-seconds flat without even getting any information about me ~ the ones who tell me where I should volunteer, where I should go to church, what occupation I should pursue, whether I should have kids, etc.

    Now when a “church lady” says, “Why don’t you join us this Sunday! You’ll LOVE our church.” . . . I can no longer resist the temptation to reply: “No, thank you. We’re heathens.”

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  10. Snehal Sahay

    Your post is a mind freshener. And true, we have each category as such nearby.
    My uncle is a bragger and a poli pete bith in a go! and her wife is the TOO much info girl (nope, woman I suppose) and they both rip my mind out!
    They got all the info present in the world!
    But even doing the points mentioned doesn’t stop them, they march in with their chattering “fangs” back again and fire..woof!
    If I could just act dead! X( But hey! They will get a new hot crunchy topic again! LOL!

    Great write up!
    Keep posting!

    • Adam S

      Thanks Snehal! This one’s so useful isn’t it? I like to think of myself as a *Power to the Little People* advocate. I’m lookin’ out for us decent folk, ya know? I promise, they’ll only get better. If they suck. Let me know. I’ll kick my own ass for it!

      • Snehal Sahay

        Hey! You made me laugh again! :D and thanks!
        Being new, and moreover, being new, I have been too “new”.
        Yes! Thats what you can call it. I have been learning from my own mistakes and trying to not make more.
        Rather than that, I enjoy it to the full. The people have given me so much of love in this short time that I never expected. :D
        And problems? Nah! The bloggerhood is quite decent and sweet.
        3 months of wordpress doesn’t count much, but the attention does. It might have been my skills, my work, my luck or straightaway the sweet bloggers, I never expected nearly 50 follows in 3 months! Well, just one less than 50 at that, but cool, isnt it?

        Just wish I can serve them well, and myself too ;)
        And no, you dont need to kick your own ass or what ever, I m loving it!
        By the way, your posts are great. You have a hand at non fiction!

        Enjoy!

      • Adam S

        Man, that’s awesome to hear! That’s what I mean, if it makes you happy, then keep doing it. *If it feels good do it* (even if you shouldn’t) I’m glad you’re diggin’ on my stuff. Keep lookin’ around, it’s all humor for the most part. I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it!
        Thanks again!

      • Snehal Sahay

        Yes and thanks! Will do it, because I want to, even if you didnt say. (cauz I m quite stubborn). And please visit if you get time(only visit IF YOU GET TIME) would love to get a guest!
        And it was a pleasure!
        Enjoy!

      • Adam S

        There’s no way I could ever forget your gravatar…
        I got you logged. Give me a few days for this madness to settle down and I’m on it!

      • Snehal Sahay

        Thanks, and even cant I. I took it as a trial, but never knew it would become my symbol for so many people! Now, even if I want to change it, I dont want to do it the same time. Weird humans! :p
        Thanks!

  11. georgemills25

    Definitely think you should include the joke teller in your list. He the guy who manages about 30 seconds of small talk before lapsing into a deep silence and then – after drawing in breath – says: ‘So there was an Englishman, an Irish man and a Scot.’ Luckily this guy is easy to avoid: you can always walk away and you’ll never cause offence because he is completely used to being ignored.

    • Adam S

      Joke teller guy usually pokes you in the stomach first and says something like, “Hey, did I tell you the one about…”
      Shut up Jokester!

      I need a name for him though…any ideas?

  12. Megy

    I love this! Sounds like you face many of the same problems that I (and everyone else in the world) do.
    I will definitely be trying the whole thrashing-foaming-at-the-mouth bit next time I run into a religious nut; which, if history gives any indication, will be sometime later on today.

  13. hunt4thought

    This was an exceptionally enjoyable read! I am familiar with all these loquacious liliputians, but have never seen some one easily some them up or their counter measures in such a well put rant. Thank you Sir! I had to share this on my Facebook Fan Page even if its a meager 29 followers they have to see this.

    • Adam S

      Thanks man! I’m glad you had a laugh! This one is my personal favorite, to be truthful because it applies to EVERYONE. I hate running into people that I’m trying to avoid –> especially at inopportune times. I love my head phones, too.

  14. marieolivia

    You are funny!
    And what is wrong with cheesy inspirational quotes? Do you like talking to people at all?

    “Religious Rick will have run to the hills. It works every time (I know this from experience).” I would have simply loved to be the fly on the wall in that situation!

    • Adam S

      I love talking to people, but I hate listening to them…Are you getting a picture in your head?

      1.) Cheesy inspirational quotes are garbage. Action counts!
      2.) I have pictures of the “possession”. $20,000 per pic. Deal?

      • marieolivia

        I’m sorry, I can’t afford it! I think I will have to go back in time in stead, it guess that would be easier than to drag 20 000 $ up from nowhere!

        And seriously, how do you have pictures? How is that possible, I thought you were to busy being possessed? Maybe you really are possessed…

  15. SimplySage

    Well, this was quite enlightening. I work with a person who is ALL of these! Unfortunately, where I work even my silence is taken as rude and insensitive or I’m hiding something. I just can’t win! One must engage on a certain level of small talk. So I’m adding another solution to all yours.
    I have developed a list of “pat” answers for anyone from nosy people to gossips to chronic complainers. My pat answers are nice and polite and have provided numerous escapes. Some are as simple as, “Oh my, is that right?” “Really?” “Hmmm”. I find the shorter the better.
    My favorite of yours? The escape from the storyteller! I will definitely act on that one, for sure!

      • tauromaja

        Where were you when that happened? I would have LOVED to have said that! I am just so overwhelmed that someone would do that in the first place, I am not quick enough to bring out the heavy artillery. Okay…gonorrhea, gonorrhea, yea, yea, yea!

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  17. runoffwriter

    Alright, I am totally Storyteller Steve (and I’ll go one better, ‘cuz my “quick stories” usually have other unquick stories embedded within them) and TMI Gal, but hey, that last one got me a husband, so it can’t be ALL bad (I don’t THINK he first kissed me just to stop all the sharing, but I’ve never asked…).

    Political Petes=worst. They make me not care about any issue. Just a little bit counter-productive, no? Sometimes it’s fun to tell those types that you don’t really care about any of it, and watch them lose it.

  18. youlittlesnob

    How about the super douche who just talks to you to try and start a fight, and the annoying people who stand in front of you in a desperate attempt to be seen with you and talk about random shit that makes no sense. I tried simply walking away out of the blue and it worked, might be rude but it’s just as rude to waste someone’s time with shit they don’t care about.

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    Fascinating blog! Is your theme custom made or did you
    download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make
    my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design.
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    • Adam S

      Thanks, yo – Much appreciated! The theme I use is free – it’s called, Blaskan. I changed the fonts and had a custom banner designed for it. Let me know if you need any help! \m/

  21. Ambre Neuser-Gajewski

    Sadly I work with all these types. The hardest to get away from is the Bragger and the Story Teller. A few months ago our main annoying bragger moved far far away leaving us, only to be replaced with someone worse, and in a department closer to mine! Its maddening! Now the Political Pete types…I just look at them like they are idiots and don’t say anything…works pretty well!

    • Adam S

      Ambre, everybody works with all of these types. Employers have to meet a quota to insure that there is a perfect balance of fucking asswipes.

      I wish they would all go on a cruise to the Bermuda Triangle.

  22. Riley

    why cant people just… stop… talking?
    WHY.
    I can seldom, if ever, just get from point A to point B without being approached by one of these blithering idiots.
    I try (oh how I try) to look just busy and distracted enough everywhere I go, that maybe they won’t get in my way.
    And it gets worse when you’re pregnant.
    I can’t even walk ten feet some mornings, without someone “genuinely wondering” how far along I am, the sex of the baby, and telling me I shouldnt be drinking this coffee.
    As if they actually even care about the details of my gestation.

    All I can say, is… WHY?

    Ok. Rant over. ;)~

  23. anitadesignstudio

    I’m ashamed of myself. I can’t believe that I’m only reading this now. Naughty Neets!! As per usual, a witty, snappy and laugh-out-loud piece from the very talented Mr Sendek :)

  24. floridaborne

    Good blog entry! I’ve been at least 3 of those 5 at some point in my life. I’m not all that good at dealing with other people’s Irritable-mouth syndrome, but did have one incident where I actually walked out of the room feeling like I’d scored a knock out. It felt great!

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    • Chowderhead

      Thank you Thank you, and no, I only wish. No I take that back. That was a bit harsh of me. But I hope he falls over the boat rail on his next fishing trip and gets eaten by a giant squid or a walrus or something. Wait, that was harsh too…

      Maybe just a really bad sliver from walking around on the pier. How about that?

    • Chowderhead

      Thanks! None of this advice works, fyi…

      I’m gonna fill you in on a dirty little secret: I will small talk to you until your ears bleed. I also love internet chat. BUT, when the only thing we’re talking about is ‘you’, that’s when I start to trail off in thought and think about house chores, bacon, chicks, homework, etc.

      • tchistorygal

        Hi Chowderhead, I agree. I like to have a chance to get a word in edgewise when I’m talking to anyone. It’s not fun if one person hogs the whole conversation. You are an awesome writer, and a funny guy. Hope to chat more in 2014. Have a great New Year. My ears haven’t started bleeding yet. I’ll let you know when they do! :) :)

      • Chowderhead

        Marsha, thank you so much. It’s been awhile since we chatted last, and I’m making more of a point to interact with everyone lately. I will drop by and visit when I can and you do the same. Happy new year!

      • tchistorygal

        Thanks, I will. It has been a long time, my bad. I’ve been writing a book since Nov. 1, and it’s imprisoned me and won’t let me go until it’s done, which I hope will be soon. It’s my first actual novel, so I’m learning as I go. Blogging has taken a back burner – even reading blogs. Hope your New Year is starting out well. BTW, Maddie has been very helpful and encouraging to me as I’ve worked on this project, and I know you two are pretty good friends. She’s a dear friend to me, too. :)

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  27. Steph

    Hahaha! I hate small talk, but I’m guilty of anxious chatter. If you engage me in small talk against my will, my mouth starts moving and all sorts of inappropriate nonsense comes out. I have no control over this, and I think it’s your own fault for trying to make conversation with someone who is clearly unbalanced.

    • Chowderhead

      Stop talking so much geez…

      Haha. Standard protocol: Sarcasm better be your first language, English comes second. And welcome aboard, Steph! Look at us all small talking and stuff…

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