I've learned it is best for me to prepare for small talk at social events. I have a tendency to give too much information. People don't want to know what is really going on, and I have a problem letting it all out which tends to make the average person uncomfortable. I had answers prepared for two common questions I knew I would hear at a wedding over the weekend. My prepared answers consisted of few words as possible in an attempt to not actually have to develop a conversation.
Question 1 can come in multiple forms: Do you have kids? When are you having kids? Prepared answer: We have a dog.
How conversation actually went:
"Do you have kids?"
"No, we just got a dog to practice on. The hardest part of having a kid is keeping it alive, right? So far our dog is still alive. She is a great dog. We have never heard her bark." I said.
"You know, if you have a dog that doesn't bark that isn't very good practice. Babies cry," the person said with concern in their eyes.
Very good point made by my new friend sitting across the dinner table. Conversation over. Victory.
Question 2: "What do you do?"
Answer: I'm in marketing and sales.
The plan was to not elaborate or ask the same question back as a polite person would do. I do not want to talk about work. Unless you are working in the arts, entertainment, a non-profit, own your own business, or making some huge impact on society, your job is probably just as uninteresting as mine. Let's just be honest here. What I found interesting about this question is that the older I get, I'm asked whether at work at all.
"Do you work?"
"Yes," I answer hoping it ends there.
"What do you do?"
"Marketing," I reply proud that I'm sticking to the script. I'm not going to blow this one with too much information like the last one.
"Marketing? Like what?"
Oh shit. Here we go.
"I'm in the medical field," I respond.
"Oh so am I. I sell blah blah blah to orthopedic surgeons."
"Cool," I replied. Please make this end.
He continues describing his line of work.
"Cool," I respond again. The third time I respond with "cool" watch him quietly smirk to himself.
This guys thinks I'm an idiot, which is just fine with me. This is not going as planned. I know this was a great networking opportunity as they say, but I'm not looking to network myself into another unsatisfying job. Our days are numbered, lets not waste it on needless small talk people.