Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-18-2007, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

If only I knew how to actually talk to people... Seriously, I literally cannot hold a conversation with anyone.

I went for a haircut tonight, and it was downright painful trying to keep the conversation going. It was all small talk and nothing else. As it was, there was plenty of silence between the small talk questions. I just can't figure out for the life of me how to transition into a real free flowing conversation. I've read books, articles, etc on this and it seems to make since when reading it, but as soon as I find myself in a real life situation, everything goes right out the window. I guess my life is so boring that I have nothing to say.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-18-2007, 08:06 PM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

Is it only people you don't know you can't hold a conversation with, or anyone? Can you hold a conversation with your parents or a close friend?
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-18-2007, 08:11 PM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

I hate haircuts aswell, one of the few things that still are a nightmare to me >.>
Funny thing is, I can hold conversations just fine with family, but with strangers, I have trouble getting comfortable enough. When I talk to family I say random stuff too; noizes and all XD. Which is pretty embarassing to say in public, so it's hard to be myself.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 06:36 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

I have trouble with this too...for me, I think it's just because I'm not good at thinking on my feet. When I want to tell a story for instance, it takes me forever to remember the details of the story and assemble it into something fit for others to listen to. And when I finally am ready to say something, the moment has passed, and it becomes awkward. Naturally it's worse with strangers or people I'm not comfortable with, because I'm nervous and that makes it harder to concentrate, and it's worst of all in group situations because everyone else is talking a mile a minute and I can't get a word in edgewise.

Sometimes, I'm just not all that interested in the other person, frankly =/. I'm not very good at striking up casual acquaintances...unless we have a whole lot in common, it's almost impossible for me to make conversation with people.

Just keep trying, I guess.

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. - Oscar Wilde
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 10:16 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

I can totally relate! I'm dreading going for my next haircut because the person I want to go to, I've only been to once before. She is very nice but I just don't really know what to say to her. So, she asks me lots of questions and I feel stupid giving my answers because I have a lot of depressing things in my life I don't like to talk about and when ppl ask me about things and I have to bring those things up, its a total bummer! (HOLY run-on sentence!)

I love talking to ppl who can keep it going and direct the whole convo. Some ppl are really good at it. Although if you get 2 socially awkward ppl together, its hard to keep a convo going. I guess when that happens the best thing to do is try to find comfort in the silence, as hard as it is.

Funny enough, I thought in the past of becoming a beautician but never went through with it because I wouldn't know how to keep convos going with everyone. That is the think though, mabey we have to learn that it is okay to be quiet too.

More thoughts to ponder.............

"Riders on the storm; Into this house we're born; Into this world we're thrown. Like a dog without a bone; An actor out alone; Riders on the storm."
~ Jim Morrison ~
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 10:36 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

I think you are putting too much pressure and responsiblity on yourself...to "keep the conversation going". There will always be silence between small talking points. that's normal. And, I don't know anyone who goes to the barber for deep conversation. Take the pressure off by not mentally controlling how deep, long, short, the conversation is going to be. And just enjoy what happens.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 11:18 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

Keeping small talk going is something I have trouble with too.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 12:05 PM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

I'm not so good at small talk either. I might have some minor incidents to relate that happened to me or some trivia to tell but it never catches fire and blazes into a long, involved conversation that creates close friendships. I'm sort of a hit-and-run talker. I may talk for a minute or two then go blank and withdraw from the scene. Not an embarrassed withdrawal, just one where I'm aware that I didn't get sufficient quality social stimulation to make me a happy camper. So people come to think of me as nice but not worth talking to much beyond "Hi, how are doing?" I almost feel that people can psychically sense I am "socially disengaged" or even "damaged goods" from a mile away and so don't bother to interact with me much.

"If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world." -Syd Banks
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen Mechanics
Is it only people you don't know you can't hold a conversation with, or anyone? Can you hold a conversation with your parents or a close friend?
I can't really hold a conversation with my parents either. When I go out to dinner with my parents, I end up sitting there watching them talk. The only time I say anything is when they ask me a question.

...Don't have any close freinds.

I think a lot of the problem is the fact that I live such a dull life. I don't go anywhere or do anything. I just sit in my room day in, day out. My room doesn't provide me with much conversation fodder.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 06:08 PM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

Why don't you try changing your habits and go out and do stuff by yourself so you have stuff to talk about? Or, if you are interested, watch some TV shows, listen to music, see movies, that is stuff you can talk about. I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself with the haircut though, I don't talk much when I get my hair cut and it's not such a big deal I don't think.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-19-2007, 06:23 PM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

This is something I struggle with as well. I've been at my current job for over 12 years and I would say only within the past five years or so have my conversation skills improved somewhat. I've been there long enough to grow rather comfortable in my environment so it isn't as hard for me as it would be if I were at a social event. Most of the people I talk to are customers I've grown familiar with over the years. Usually they initiate the conversation and it goes from there. I still can't approach a stranger and start talking to them though, thats way out of my league.
There are some things in particular that make me very uncomfortable though. For example, the other day a new customer came in. I was working on his vehicle and he stood there talking to me the whole time, mostly asking me personal questions. He seemed friendly and I know he was only trying to make conversation, but I felt a little too stressed by the topic:
How long have you worked here?
How often do you do this type of work?
Do you have any kids?
Are you married?
Where do you live?
Whats your last name?

And on and on...
As if that weren't bad enough, the guy had seriously bad breath and I was about gagging the whole time. I swear he must have eaten a turd for breakfast because I could smell it from about five feet away. Those types of conversations usually don't go too well for me, but if its just small talk I can handle it pretty well.

How can I feel this empty?
I will not recover this time
This loneliness is killing me

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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 05:46 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

Quote:
Although if you get 2 socially awkward ppl together, its hard to keep a convo going. I guess when that happens the best thing to do is try to find comfort in the silence, as hard as it is.
At least with another socially awkward you don't have the added pressure of hiding who you are, its accepted and understood.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 07:56 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

Very true.

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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 08:15 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

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Originally Posted by embers
Quote:
Although if you get 2 socially awkward ppl together, its hard to keep a convo going. I guess when that happens the best thing to do is try to find comfort in the silence, as hard as it is.
At least with another socially awkward you don't have the added pressure of hiding who you are, its accepted and understood.
Very true!

Its funny because I think my one bff is more socially awkward than I am, yet she doesn't have SA. I always feel like she is judging me and I hate that. She never responds to anything I say positively at all. She never has. She always gets silent when I share anything postive.

Sorry for my random thought there

"Riders on the storm; Into this house we're born; Into this world we're thrown. Like a dog without a bone; An actor out alone; Riders on the storm."
~ Jim Morrison ~
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 10:29 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

It's nearly impossible to hold a conversation with someone who doesn't have the same life and/or interests than you do. I have this problem a little with many people at work, the best conversations I have with them is when we talk about what's happening in the workplace. I hate when I hear "enough talk about work" and then talk about their family, activities,etc.. I'm totally lost then.

2 exemples of boring conversations:
There's someone who's about to retire, she's not that interested in talking about work but I know all about her kids and grandkids and I never even met them.

There's a bunch of guys my age who only talks about gaming and computer components. That would have interested 10-15 yrs ago in my teenage years but this geeky hobby is really boring me now
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post #16 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 11:43 AM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

to coco - Being positive is a good thing. I try to be positive and send out that vibe, even when I don't feel that way IRL too.
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post #17 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 05:16 PM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

This is my main problem too. One thing I found has been helpful:

Voicerecorder. Get yourself talking into a voicerecorder in the privacy of your own room. Talk about anything, just try to get talking. What does a person's favourite colour say about them? for example. Just relax and talk, saying the first thing that pops in your head.

my social anxiety blog
http://modernsocializing.blogspot.com
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post #18 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-20-2007, 06:55 PM
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Re: Unable to hold a conversation = Biggest sticking point

I know how you feel. I've read articles, too and all it tells me is to talk about the weather'and that it's all supposed to "flow" from there...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Futures
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen Mechanics
Is it only people you don't know you can't hold a conversation with, or anyone? Can you hold a conversation with your parents or a close friend?
I can't really hold a conversation with my parents either. When I go out to dinner with my parents, I end up sitting there watching them talk. The only time I say anything is when they ask me a question.

...Don't have any close freinds.

I think a lot of the problem is the fact that I live such a dull life. I don't go anywhere or do anything. I just sit in my room day in, day out. My room doesn't provide me with much conversation fodder.
Exactly!! Not even with my parents or family. And when I used to be with my friends they were always the ones to start the conversation.
I say the same thing. That it's because I have a dull life, but a lot of people do and they still find something to talk about. How much can you talk about things anyways? It's not like people care...
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post #19 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 08:07 AM
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solution

Hi all
I had this problem also a couple of years ago and someone guided me to the solution...it's not as hard as you may think.
The best advice i can give you is to become interested in the other person. Start a habit of noticing interesting things about the other person, things that are unusual to you. For example the way he styles his hair, the clothes he wears, the jewelry he has, things like that. The key is to notice things that are different about him.
The second step is to ask questions about that thing. Be careful about the questions you ask. Ask questions that trigger a story in the other person. When the other person answers with at least 4-5 words, you have asked a good question. To keep the conversation going, ask another question from the 4-5 words in the answer, and so on...you get the idea. The secret is not to ask questions that sound like a police interogatorry, or questions that have closed answers (just a few options to choose from, for example yes/no questions), but questions that trigger a story in the other guy. Hint - a very good starting point is asking questions that begin with the word HOW, eq
"How come you chose that model of car?"
"How did you get to become a ...(choose profession)?"
I have tried this and it works, you will soon find yourself having conversations that last very very long, and you won't feel the time pasing by.
Hope you'l try this, i know it will work!
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post #20 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2011, 01:42 PM
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I too have quite a big problem with keeping small talk afloat. Not being able to hold a good conversation with someone i'm not familiar with can be frustrating then depressing then painfully depressing. I wish I could express my thoughts into words the same way I do when I'm with people. Both my mind and my mouth work faster and smoother when not talking to someone i'm not 100% familiar with. :l
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