mindfulness / Psychology / Relationships

Deeper Relationships

small talk As Winter Solstice approached I carefully considered what I wanted to leave behind and what I want to achieve in 2012.  In 2011 I was able to achieve my health and wellness goals. I had an unexpected opportunity to work side-by-side with my husband by traveling down a  path with heart that drew us closer together than we have ever been.  However,  during that time I met new people and re-discovered how very poor I am at making small talk work for me.

Small talk used to make me crazy. It was painful to listen to the ritual, empty conversation that didn’t go anywhere. It felt so inauthentic — people saying things and pretending to care about them. I’d try to participate but it was energy draining. “Could we just get on with it?!” Small talk seemed such a time waster. — Have You Found a Way to Make Small Talk Work for You Yet?

Life lesson: The foundation every new relationship is built upon is small talk.

By their nature, open-ended questions invite others to go into detail, rather than giving you a short, one-sentence answer.  Open-ended questions usually begin with words such as how, why, what, who, which, when and where.

Together and Alone Naturally

A relationship has deep value only if it’s genuine. The more of your vulnerable self you share with others, the more encouragement you provide for them to do the same. Most people long to be truly heard. Talking and listening to others about what your/their needs are, how they affect your/their life and how they affect your/their interaction leads to mutual appreciation and understanding.

Without doubt a network of supportive relationships contributes to psychological well-being. When you have a social support network, you have a sense of belonging, you feel an increased sense of self-worth and of security.  Family and friends are extremely important to us. While you are appreciating what you have; maintaining an optimistic outlook; feeling a sense of purpose; and living in the moment;  are you also devoting time to building deeper relationships? 

Balancing Aloneness and Togetherness

Everyone needs time to be alone and time to be with others. For each of us the balance is different. For all of us creating a balance between need for solitude and the need to be in the company of others is challenging.

When you become aware of silence, immediately there is that state of inner still alertness. You are present. You have stepped out of thousands of years of collective human conditioning. — Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks

Life Lesson:  Experiencing solitude enables real communion with others. We need time and space to be alone, to find ourselves in solitude, before we can give ourselves to one another in true togetherness.

Not every moment of the time you spend with others is spent in dialogue. When you don’t know another well you may be uncomfortable with silences. Your monkey mind may try to interpret the meaning of the silence and assign an inappropriate negative significance to it. Or you may feel at a loss as to what to do and strive to fill the silence.  One-sided dominance of any conversation is an onerous burden. Over time you will naturally share companionable silences with people you care deeply for.

“It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” — Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

In 2012 I intend to continue my health and wellness program including,  eating healthier, reducing stress, exercising regularly, embracing positive thinking, learning how to love myself, and celebrating small successes.  My over-arching goal for 2012 is to devote more time to building a deeper relationship with myself and with others.

The end of the year is the perfect time for self-love and self-evaluation.  Love yourself for who you are right now and love yourself for knowing who you want to become more of. — How to end this year on a Fabulously Positive note


This is the time to evaluate what you have  endured and have survived and open your heart to prepare for the spring to come.  I’m an introvert, a loner, who has set a goal of becoming more adept at small talk, and at deeping my relationship with myself and others in 2012. Have you set any health and wellness and/or relationship goals for 2012?

32 thoughts on “Deeper Relationships

  1. Pingback: Individuality and Compassionate Connection | this time – this space

  2. Pingback: Seeking Happiness: Focus on Relationships | this time – this space

  3. As soon as I begin reading your post, I was reminded of an article I recently read titled “Shh! Your Inner Introvert Is Calling”. In it was a section about talking deeply, and how introverts find chitchat overstimulating and like to focus on one topic of mutual interest. The article said that a recent study found that “the happiest people have twice as many substantive conversations as the unhappiest and participate in far less small talk”.

    I am terrible and terrified of small talk – I feel like it’s a waste of time and it increases my anxiety. I’m always the one in the group who sits and listens, and I’m perfectly happy doing that – but to others it seems as if I am unhappy and not enjoying myself. Generally speaking, I believe that society expects people to be “on” all the time, to be able to give fist pumps and hi-fives and “shoot the shiz” as people say. Other than getting through a short conversation with an acquaintance, I think you should stick to what comes naturally to you, continue your journey building deeper relationships with deeper conversations.

    Your 2012 goals are awesome. As someone who is working on loving and befriending myself, your words of self-reflection inspire hope for my own journey.

    • I’ve felt all the pressures to conform that you refer to all of my life. I also agree thatour society expects that we will be turned on all the time especially with the technology we have now and the thought of that turns me right off.

      I’m happy to hear you found my post inspiring. I find it’s no longer a struggle to love myself and not judge myself for being different ie. taciturn.

      I recognize that I’ve lived here a long time and I’m very comfortable in my own community. I’m content with the people I do know and not very friendly to those I don’t know. I’ve changed my point of view now because during the time I worked with my husband in October and November I recognized those I haven’t opened up to are all potentially friends, who could become close to me if I made an effort to get to know them. They could be very lonely especially if they have just moved here.

      So I have been and will be making and effort to chat with new people I meet and remain focused on deepening all my relationships in 2012.
      Best wishes to you. :)

  4. I am reading Dorothy Rowe ;The Successful Self’ at the moment. It explains about introversion and extraversion in a way that was slightly different than I had understood. It is also helpful about how to improve relationships by being more self aware and aware of people you are close to. I am thinking hard about how in the past I have understood myself to be an Introvert. I am a mix, and need to work on some aspects of myself, to more fully appreciate life. Good post.

    • Hello there,
      It’s good to meet you and I also enjoyed my visit to your blog as well. I haven’t read The Successful Self but I will be looking for a copy now you have recommended it. I too am a mix and can operate as an ambivert. However, I’m in the forest dweller stage of my life and choose not to be out and in contact with many people. Aside from truly wanting to be a goodwill ambassador in the world, I think it’s important for me to be mindful ie. fully attentive when I am in the company of others. Thanks for the visit and the book recommendation.

  5. Hi TT,

    I’m happy to know that you were able to achieve your goals about health and wellness last year, that is wonderful to hear. With regards to devoting time to make deeper relationships with the others, I really understand the value of giving effort in this matter, and I totally agree with you about the small talk.

    I know I only have few good friends that I trust but I also make myself available to people who are new to me by attending some casual meet ups in the city. We might be just talking about our profession, travel experiences and some common interests but I know if we keep on seeing each other, the conversation might reach an extra mile and good friendship will blossom for sure.

    Aside from that, I still make time to keep in touch with friends who live thousands of miles away from me by video chatting with them, or sending them postcards or mails to make things traditional but warm. And they love it.

    We all choose our own people to be with, we leave some behind and hold on to those who are close to our hearts. Even there are some busted friendships or betrayals that separated us from the others, I believe we should always open our hearts into meeting new people by starting with that small talk.

    I’m an introvert person, but i love socializing as well and not necessarily getting myself intoxicated. Like you said, we all need a sense of belongingness.

    Thank you again for sharing this and sorry for responding late. Happy New Year to you!!

    • Hi edgecrosser,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m holding onto this as it resonated: “I believe we should always open our hearts into meeting new people by starting with that small talk.”

      I was so happy to hear from you. We are very much alike. I’m feeling blue right now but I’m coping with it. This too shall pass.

      Love and peace,

  6. This is such a great post! I am glad that I found your blog after all the help you have given me!
    I was just talking to my husband about this and we decided that we need to expand our friendships in 2012. We have met a lot of wonderful people in the last few months, so after the holidays we plan to make the effort to get to know them better!
    Happy New Year!

  7. Hi, TT. I love your posts because you always put so much of yourself into them. I’m sure the same thing is true offline as on. I’m a naturally friendly and gregarious person so I do quite well with small talk. I find it relaxing and energizing at the same time. When I’m around people I prefer to talk, and I reserve my silent times for when I’m alone. I can spend a lot of time alone, and I can spend a lot around people. I think I’m equally happy either way.

    • Dear Marty,
      You and my husband appear to have the same outgoing personality type. I look up to both of you. I have had a very traumatic life but I choose not to spend time on blogging about the past. Cognitive therapy and art therapy have helped me so much and so has blogging in my private journal as well as my blogs. However, I am focused on becoming better at small talk in 2012 because while working with my husband I recognized I needed to develop that skill.

      May your 2012 be an outstanding year for you and yours and may we remain forever friends.
      With much love,

  8. timethief,

    This post is a good prompt for me. I’ve been pouring over my journals collecting my insights and lessons from this year; a project that will extend into January as there was so much this year. I have been lonely, living in a new place and limited in my ability to make friends due to environmental sensitivities. I fluctuate between wanting to be a hermit and wanted to feel connected. There is so much food for thought here and it’s precisely on target for me in terms of personal growth. Thank you for the meaningful post.

    • Dear Sandra,
      You have been such an inspiration and friend to me since you began to blog that I treasure you. It makes me feel good to know that you found value in this post. I too have environmental senstivities and food allergies so I can relate. And I likewise swing back and forth between wanting to be connected and wanting to be a hermit. I don’t frequently experience loneliness so I think I have always been insensitive to the lonlieness others are experiencing. That realizaion motivates me to change. This year I’m going to try and reach out more to others. It’s good to know that you are out there.
      With much love,

  9. My tolerance for small talk is quite low. My cunning plan to keep it at a minimum is to redirect the conversation by asking questions. People love to talk about themselves and their interests – a few well chosen questions will usually be enough to send them off in rather interesting directions!

    • I have been self-employed for a long, long time and I’m close to being a hermit. When I helped my husband I was in culture shock. Do people really yammer that much about nothing? The answer was: “Yes, they do.”

      That meant I had to relearn how to ask questions of the new people I met more quickly than they asked me questions, so they would go off on a tangent talking about themselves, and not expect me to be chatty.

      One way of looking at this is a humourous one. I’m saving them from the prolonged silences that come with territory of being my friend, right? lol :D

  10. The potential list of goals is so long and initimidating, I am trying to winnow down to just a few specific and achievable things. I have to say your comment about small talk and the linked article are thought provoking, and I think that skill is one I need to prioritise for the new year – but not only do I have to get over this in English, I really really need to be able to do small talk in Portuguese, so my lack of confidence in my language skills makes this one a double whammy to work through! Thanks for the help and guidance on the goal setting process! Best wishes for the coming year, Timethief!

    • Dear Cynthia,
      I think we can get carried away with making long lists of goals we never achieve. I have done that in the past. Last year I quietly set one goal for this little blog and that was to publish 12 articles directly related to my commitment to my own my health and wellness. I achieved that goal and this year I’m setting only one goal again. I’m so impressed with the fact you are setting the goal of communicating in more than one language. Best wishes to you.
      Love and peace,

  11. My health and wellness goal for 2012 is to get rid of the weight I gained during 2010/2011 and therefore be able to manage my spine issues better. Improve my muscle tone.

    Mr O and I went for a walk last night and I did walk a little further than I should have, but I coped. We will go for a walk each day. At this stage I am a little slow for his long and very healthy legs, but we will get there.

    I am so glad you achieved your health and wellness goals in 2011. A great achievement!

    • Hello there,
      I hope you achieve your health and wellness goal and I’ll be cheering you on. It’s so good to hear you two are walking together. Committing to achieving health goals with a partner is a great idea. Don’t forget to acknowledge and celebrate the small steps along the way.
      Best wishes to you and yours

  12. Your posts make me feel like I am sitting beside a good friend talking about things that matter. This one gives me the nudge I need to pause, reflect and go forth with new energy. Thanks.

    • @winsomebella
      Thanks so much for your positive feedback. I’m not a good communicator when it comes to being “social” unless I’m with close friends and family. If I’m with people I don’t know I’m not inclined to communicate much at all. Having just lost my mother I’m keenly aware of the need to develop deeper relationships with those I care deeply about. As for meeting new people I’ll be making an effort to ask open-ended questions in 2012.

  13. I read the link about making small talk.
    You know, there’s a bunch of guys who sit on the other side of my 7 ft. high cubicle office wall, and I never bother to make small talk with them on the elevator at the office building…even though we hear each other’s conversations through 2 inches of fabric wall nearly daily.

    In a way it’s rude but they haven’t bothered to be open/nice to me either. I am acutely aware that our divisions actually work on projects that might intersect but the knowledge silos persist. Maybe it comes from working for over 9 different employers over the years.

    At this point, I am beyond caring. And instead prefer to concentrate on spending more time and effort with people who I care alot more and add more meaning to my life.

    I am an introvert if given an easy choice :), but realize abit of small talk is useful so I might choose to make a comment on something that both, the person and myself shared. Weather small talk, is actually easy and harmless for me: I am a cyclist…and I care ALOT about the daily weather patterns. It can make a big difference to me in terms of comfort level.

    Since you are a gardener, then maybe weather small talk could be seen a different light, since it affects our food, our moods, our daily travels, our activities outdoors, etc.

    • Hi Jean,
      It’s been years since I worked in an office environment and when I did I had my own office and those I communicated with were few in number.

      I think what makes small talk meaningful or not is the motive that drives it. If the motive is sincere, then small talk could result in a new acquaintance, who may become a friend one day. At the very least it’s a way of exchanging pleasantries and goodwill … maybe with someone who doesn’t have many others to chat with.

  14. I feel the same way about having authentic relationships. I’m pretty good at small talk though from years of dealing with the public. But I have many more acquaintances than friends. Good piece. Thanks

    • Hi Joyce,
      I too have always had more acquaintances than friends. In recent years I have been losing friends due to unexpected deaths. This summer I was with dear friends, this fall other friends were supporters of my husband’s project. That’s when I met many new people too and recognized simultaneously (1) how poor I was at small talk (2) how wonderful it is to be with friends (3) how little effort I made to make new friends.

  15. “Like” I “like” like this because I do not like the like buttons that ask for username and password and login. Doesn’t work for me.

    This post however does work for me so “Like” :)

    • Hi Patricia,
      I’m glad this post works for you. That means you found some value in it. Working with the public is something I hadn’t done for a long time and doing it made me recognize that small talk is where relationships begin.

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