How To Small Talk, Even When You Don’t Care

Small Talk Advice From Aspergian Writer, Michael

This is a guest post from Aspergian author Michael, from

small talk advice

Small Talk Advice

Small Talk

I think I can speak for most, if not all of us, when I say we hate it.

I mean, why would anyone talk about NOTHING, which is what small talk is…talk about nothing.
So superficial and a waste of time!!

Ok, I feel better now😥

But seriously, we ALL need to improve our ability to engage in small talk.


It’s how the rest of the world communicates. And, as I’ve said before in a previous post, we all need to adapt, if just a little.

And now for something completely different:

Do you know what’s happening this Sunday, February 5th?

The Super Bowl, by golly!

I know what you’re thinking:

“That’s great, Michael (sarcastically). Why do I care, and what does this have to do with small talk?”

It’s a great way to practice your small talk.

“Michael, I just said I don’t care about the Super Bowl. Besides, I don’t know a freakin’ thing about it. How am I going to talk about something I know nothing about?”

I’m glad you asked, because it’s easier than you think. And now you DO know something about it, that it’s being played on Sunday, February 5th.

For years, I’ve been engaging in small talk about things I know almost nothing about.

“Michael, that makes no sense.”

Just keep reading.

Let’s pretend I’m standing in the check out line at the supermarket and want to practice small talk with the man or woman behind me.

And let’s pretend I want to talk with this person about the Super Bowl, but all I know is that it’s being played on Sunday.

No problem

This is how I would do it…

Me: “So, are are you planning on watching the Super Bowl on Sunday?”

He or she: “I sure am.”

Me: “Who do you think will win?”

He or she: “The Patriots”

Me: “Why do you think the Patriots will win?”

He or she: “They’ve got a much better offense than the Falcons.”

Me: “How is their offense better than the Falcons’?”

He or she: “The Patriots have averaged 16 points a game.”

Me: “So, how many points do you think they will score in this game?”

He or she: “I think they’ll score 24 points.”

Me: “And what about the Falcons? How many points do you think they’ll score?”

He or she: “I predict they will score 10.”

Me: “Ok, so you think the final score will be 24 to 10.”

He or she: “Yes, I do.”

Me: “Well, it looks like I’m ready to check out. Enjoy the game.”

Did you read what I did?

I made small talk with a person I didn’t know about a topic I knew almost nothing about.

Was it magic?

No, not at all.

Look closely at the first thing I said.

I asked a question.

I simply asked if he or she was going to watch the Super Bowl.

And he or she gladly answered.

And the I asked another question, based on his or her answer.

In other words, I simply listened to what person said, took a couple of key words, and incorporated them into a question.

Question after question

Here’s the beauty of asking questions:

It takes the stress and effort out of manufacturing small talk.

You see, in my pretend conversation, I hardly did anything.

He or she did the hard work of maintaining the conversation.

I simply asked questions.

And, I didn’t even have to think of what to ask.

He or she provided the information I needed to ask my questions.

Does it get any easier than that?

Now, yes, this does take a little practice, but not much.

But I can’t think of a simpler way of engaging in small talk, even though we DESPISE it.

And who knows?

You just might learn something about the Super Bowl you didn’t know before.

By the way, the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons are playing in the 51st Super Bowl on Sunday.

How do I know this?

Take a guess.

Copyright: justinkendra / 123RF Stock Photo

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  • Stu Mountjoy

    Thank you for the post about small talk – if I zone out too much, when trying to keep track of a conversation, I can be caught out by not listening – and then a person with ASP will challenge me about what I did say YES to (asking for a lift, etc). No way of going back in time to confirm what he did say. The tv series Limitless, about a guy who takes a drug to enhance his mind, gets the mental equivalent of a tape recorder in his head, to “rewind” when he was not listening, LOL.

  • Hi, Stu! Thanks for sharing. It’s a good reminder to all of us to be listening all the time! 🙂

  • moyra

    Brilliant! Just keep asking the questions and you can’t go wrong. Thanks.

  • Craig Carpenter

    First of all, Mr. Borgman, I want to say thank you for this post about Small Talk. I plan on putting it to work immediately, however, there are a few things that make me think this method is unreliable in every circumstance.
    After Reading this, I instantly thought of how the other person might respond. Many people love to talk and carry the weight of a conversation, but just as many people really don’t. In either case, they will only continue answering for so long before expecting you to respond with something other than a question.
    I am not very old (26), but I have found that in situations of small talk if you continue to talk via the question, the person you are talking to can become agitated. Maybe it is just the few people that I have encountered; I just think that most begin to feel defensive as small talk becomes an interrogation.

  • I heard an adage, I don’t know where, “In order for people to find you interesting, you need to be interested” Asking questions is one of the best ways to show interest in others.

  • Craig, thank you very much for sharing this. There’s a way through this issue. Dan Wendler writes about gauging your conversation partner’s comfort versus discomfort. If they show discomfort, the it’s best to back off, which is precisely what you seem to have deduced. You can read more about Dan’s concepts of comfort and discomort at this link:

  • Full Spectrum Mama

    That is literally the best advice I have ever had on small talk…even if I had to read about SPORTSING to learn it!!!

    Thank you so much,
    Full spectrum Mama

  • Pingback: Autism, Employment, and Small Talk()

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