It's a question that I am asked every day. Small talk is a form of art in the south. The patterns are easily identifiable and the conversational genre has rules that aren't written down anywhere but we all know them by heart. Here are a few of my favorites:
- If someone is holding keys in one hand and holding a doorknob with the other, keep it short. They either have somewhere to go, or they don't want to talk to you.
- If the conversation starts with an observation about the weather, the probability of the conversation leading to an epiphany, a startling realization, or a meaningful exchange is slim.
- If one party in small talk starts whistling the final Jeopardy tune it's time to go.
- Don't try to make small talk with kids below the age of four in the same room. The ankle biters haven't yet learned the art of acting like you care about what someone else is saying.
- Listen closely to the introduction which will likely be "How are you doing?". If the question is presented with a slight tilt of the head, Renee Zellweger eyes, and a tone that is reserved for the family of the deceased at a funeral, what they are really asking is "No really, how are you doing?".