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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Idle Chit-Chat?

   
Author Topic: Idle Chit-Chat?
Beca
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Some people have this odd habit of talking a lot - that I have always found baffling. They engage in conversations about the weather (in endless variation, on the same weather, with the same set of a dozen or more people, day in and day out), or about the fact that it's Monday, or Friday, or payday, or Wednesday, etc. At least, those are the most common sets of conversations beyond the standard "Hi! How are you?" conversation.

And I understand the value of the weather (and other things of that sort) as a conversation topic. You're unlikely to offend anyone while talking about the weather. It's a safe topic, especially when you're talking to strangers, or the parents of someone you're dating, or other people you don't know very well, and don't want to offend.

However, people in my office (mostly the staff, not the attorneys, and now that I think about it, the staff here is almost 100% female) also spend a lot of time talking about other topics. Topics that aren't necessary, or safe: what they're eating that day (along with the same not-quite good diet advice, every day, to the same sets of people - honestly, those low-fat pop-tarts may contain less fat, but they aren't actually any more nutritious than normal pop-tarts), their health (does the entire cubicle set have to hear about your upcoming colonoscopy?), their spouses (who I'm sure wouldn't appreciate knowing that their sex lives are discussed so....candidly), and, of course the usual office gossip (making disparaging comments about coworkers behind their backs). I hear all of these conversations from my cubicle, out of sight and out of mind, but not out of earshot. And I don't have to stop typing to hear them.

The gossip I can't attribute to anything but poor professionalism. If you're going to single someone out for abuse, at least do it over lunch and outside the office, or behind closed doors. It damages morale and the whole work environment.

But the rest of it.....why?

And it finally occurred to me that most people must feel a much stronger compulsion to make conversation than I do. A strong enough compulsion, in fact, to move them to talk about things that can't be considered polite conversation topics.

But *why*?

Are they lonely? Do they feel that the only way they can interact with those around them is through constant verbal exchange? Is idle chit-chat their only functioning input/output channel? Do they feel that constant interaction is a necessary thing? Do they just really like talking to people about these things? Do they feel that the social benefit of talking to people outweighs the cost of giving bad nutritional advice, to much information about invasive medical procedures and personal life, and undermining office morale?

So far, I've only come up with a couple of reasons for this, and I'd appreciate any insight you can offer as to why people might need to talk so much....

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Farmgirl
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Some people can't stand silence.

Seriously.

They feel a deep need to FILL the silence -- like all silence is ackward to them.

(or they feel a need to respond to every post thread) [Wink]

Farmgirl

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Mike
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quote:
...those low-fat pop-tarts...
When I first read this I thought you were referring to your colleagues. [Big Grin]

IME, most people can't stand silence. Me, I can't stand people who can't stand silence. [Dont Know] Well, sort of.

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Sachiko
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I guess now I can move "talking a lot" from my annoying traits list to my odd habits list. [Smile]
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Raia
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Some people live alone, and so they get drawn more to talking than to silence. That's how my great aunt is.
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UofUlawguy
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As I remember, this kind of "idle chit-chat" was the main reason Kramer was against marriage in Seinfeld.

"So, how was your day today?"

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Sachiko
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Not that there's anything wrong with that. [Smile]
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MaureenJanay
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I know a lot of people think they could beat me, but they'd be wrong. My mother can NOT leave a moment unfilled with conversation. Once, right after my son was born, my mom and best friend came (not together, but at the same time) to see us. My friend and I were watching Simpsons when my mom started in on how she makes mashed potatoes. (Which is so different from everyone else. [Roll Eyes] ) When it was obvious that we were trying to watch the show and therefore were not going to give her our COMPLETE attention (we did offer nods and mm-hmm's) she actually knelt down in between us and the TV set to make eye contact so she could finish her monologue. It was so weird, I didn't know what to think. She does this all the time. Her life is a steady stream of useless information that only stops once she goes to sleep. I would offer you to meet her if you think I'm exaggerating.
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