I was in the bar on Wednesday. I was at a table with my storage guy, my storage sales guy (a mere acquaintance), and his wife (newly met by me)
Now, of course, the sales guy can talk. He’s not selling at the moment. But he is naturally smiley and engaging. His wife and I – not so much. We chip in. My storage guy is a good fellow, but to call him a social butterfly would be wrong. He excuses himself for a smoke break.
His chair is filled by an old coworker. (A former coworker. Not a coworker who is old.). Former and Sales can both talk. It is a good mix. They talk. Wife and I chip in at the right bits. They talk. It worked.
I sat there watching, listening and thinking. At the table is a friend, an acquaintance and a stranger. They are talking about vacations and children and whatnot – (mostly the sales guy). Ask me personal details about my life in a bar? You’d better have known me for 20 years and I’d best be drunk. Otherwise I’ll just say “good”, “nifty” or “excellent”. Heck, unless you insist that is probably all I’ll offer anyways. I save things like that for a more impersonal setting – like a blog.
The more people there are and the less I know them the quieter I will be. Even among close friends once the group has grown large enough I will generally just listen (unless I’m also drinking). I don’t feel anxious at parties with strangers, but I have no clue how to be outgoing in that situation either.
Unless I’m meant to be the centre of attention. Give me a stage and I will go until dragged off. If I know what my role is – host, entertainer, lecturer – I love a crowd of strangers. Where that is undefined, I’m much more awkward.
Anyway, an hour and a half at the bar. I looked up from my table and realized that I needed to quickly do the rounds before my bus came. I’d been completely engaged in the chitchat that had been going on.
I’m sure it isn’t as simple as that either. I bet neither Sales nor Former were truly comfortable with chitchat. They were strangers after all – I introduced the, when we sat down. It probably only looks easy and natural from where I was sitting.
On the whole, I prefer being comfortable being on the stage talking. But that skill of being comfortable in a small group for small talk. That seems pretty cool.