"I Don’t Like Small Talk"

Self-entitled misanthropes love thinking that they are “above” small talk. What they fail to see is the importance of small talk in assessing a person’s personality, mood, etc., especially if they are new to you. This comment outlines what I mean perfectly:

Small talk is about more than exchanging useless information. It is a means of assessing other peoples general disposition and sociability. It is a means of beginning dialogue with strangers or semi-strangers that may lead to an actual exchange of important or interesting information. It is a means of establishing commonality with others. Non-verbal cues can exchange much more information than the words you actually say.

Nobody cares about the weather, but learning how to communicate through small talk is actually a very helpful social skill to learn.

Exactly.

Funny that it’s always people with piss poor social skills who think they are beyond small talk.

I understand that it’s no fun to talk (or be talked to) for the sake of talking or killing ‘awkward’ silence, but understand that “interesting” conversation is dependent on the audience. In a recent article on being happy, I even examined research that proves deeper conversation is a must.

Most people are willing to open up after you’ve gained their trust with small talk, so why do so many awkward people think that they can just dive into these deep topics without breaking the ice first?

Don’t be apart of the introvert-industrial complex; make small talk work for you by working on your ability to handle small talk.

Bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness

Some very true words by C.S. Lewis:

No man knows how bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good.

Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of the wind by trying to talk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives into temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.

That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it.

Or a Rosa Luxemburg would so beautifully put it: Those who do not move do not notice their chains.

Writing Tip: Gary Provost on Varying Sentence Length

Creating flow in your writing can be difficult, and I found this advice from Gary Provost to be quite useful:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

One Statistic is Displayed Above Everyone’s Head: What Would You Choose?

I absolutely loved this thread on r/AskReddit the other day, where users replied to a question on ‘What one life statistic would you want displayed above everyone’s head?’, but I was particularly fond of this reply (slightly edited):

[I’d pick] a seemingly randomly generated number. Millions will attempt to discover what the number means, how it is made and how it is projected.

New societal norms and fads will revolve around ones number, making these numbers a new way to depict coolness, beauty, genetic viability, etc… but in actuality it will be nothing but an elaborate experiment in psychology.

As a psychology nerd, I imagine this inevitable worldwide obsession over one’s number (be honest, you know it would happen) would be one of the most interesting cases of perceived value (like money is now) to ever hit the human race!

What do you think?

10 ‘Life Statistics’ You Should be Tracking

Tracking behaviors, patterns, and habits is something that has helped me a lot in figuring out how to improve my day-to-day activities.

Let me explain.

It seems overly grandiose at first, but as I wrote about in my post on the “Science of Productivity,” we often overestimate just how much we’ve ‘done’ in any individual activity (like how much actual work we finished during our work day).

With tracking, there’s just the objective data to look at, so there’s no lying to yourself and no bias.

What If You Tracked These Behaviors?

Food for thought: what if you tracked these behaviors over the course of an average month?

Would you be happy with the results if you could see your hours spent on paper, with no bias to cloud your judgement?

  1. How much money you spent
  2. How long you spent talking with loved ones
  3. How much time you spent working on your “passion”
  4. How far you walked each day
  5. How much you time you read OFF the computer
  6. How much time you spent on ‘administrative’ work (bills, etc)
  7. How many calories you ate per day
  8. How much time you actually worked at work
  9. How much time you spent watching TV
  10. How many of your short-term goals you accomplished

How This All Started

This whole thought process started when I began truly thinking about the Pareto principle, instead of just simply accepting that it’s a good idea and never putting it into action.

I noticed that while working at my SaaS startup, I became so focused on what our competitors were doing, I was missing out on really drilling down on that 20% of effort that achieves 80% of the results.

And then I thought, has this sort of thinking permeated other parts of my life?

Am I really spending my time focusing on the things that get ‘80% of the results?’

When we talk about “results” in this context, it’s quite different from business goals, but the focus on doing what matters remains the same—putting relentless effort in The Daily Decrease so that we can systematically stop doing the things that aren’t really to our benefit.

Things like mindlessly watching TV when we don’t really want to watch TV (I’m not one of those people that villainizes TV, it’s just the de facto example).

Things like putting off work, getting that uncomfortable “I still have this task hanging over my head” feeling, and sabotaging our own progress by doing stuff we only tolerate instead of the stuff we love.

Anyway, I’ll be tracking some of my daily behaviors, how about you? :)