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my poor small talk at parties(21 Posts)
DH comes from a very academically able family, all in high-flying jobs - globe-trotting accountants, award-winning doctors, business professionals.
I always feel as though every time we meet up, they have to gear themselves up to talk to me (who has an admin-type job, which is fairly well-paid, requires good qualifications and which other people would possibly envy) about my not-very-glamorous job, which involves no travel and has no discernible value (i.e. I don't exactly save lives or win awards, or make multi-million pound deals). They always ask exactly the same questions to me ("and how is your job?"), yawn through my 2 minute answer and then spend about 20 mins telling me all about how wonderful they are. This is sort of fine - I'm glad they're doing so well and enjoying their lives so much. I guess I always feel quite low-achieving and dull in comparison and always feel they wander off to talk to someone more exciting as soon as poss.
Just looking for some tea and sympathy really and to feel like I do have some value somewhere!
People mostly want to talk about themselves. Get them doing that and they'll think you're marvellous.
The people who have the richest lives, and the most interesting people, will have a range of friends from all walks of life. They sound very boring in my opinion and I would be counting the time until I could leave (which would be around 10.30 pm if it were a dinner party with that sort of talk).
I have found that the people who tell you how important they are and how the world would stop turning without their valuable contribution tend not to be the real high flyers. They are often trying to convince themselves as much as they are trying to convince you. People who are secure and comfortable in their skin don't need to tell you how wonderful they are.
You are as good as any of them.
Agree with Marshy, plus I think that they need to work on their social skills if all they can think to talk about is work - no-one's job is that exciting!
Thanks all. Yes, it's really weird. I have met other, very lovely doctors, accountants, city people etc and all will talk to me on a variety of topics e.g. DS and his life; holidays; plans to decorate the house etc etc - all asking my opinion on their problems (I can't usually help, but at least they ask!)
As an outsider, it's like watching a competition in one-upmanship, as they all try to outdo each other in how marvellous their job is!
SiL was also saying that her DD has a drama teacher who is encouraging her DD to go to drama school. Apparently SiL said "Oh, but what's the use of that - she'd be far better off studying science and getting a decent job."
Having a History degree myself, it was rather galling to basically hear ...
Accountancy is about as far from glamorous and as close to boring as it's possible to get!
That's nonsense Mango - accountancy covers such a range of roles and is really interesting. But then, I'm interested in people and don't make sweeping generalisations.
I'm not in finance, btw.
OP - these people sound dull and self involved. Your small talk skills sound fine.
You can just have a stock comment like "oh my job's going really well at the moment - really enjoying working with the current team - Joe about yours?"
It's usually more interesting and engaging if people sound positive!
People who talk about their jobs just simply aren't worth talking too, no one gives a shit. Same with their children other than a few bullet points.
That's more-or-less what i do Cabrinha - I try to be positive about my job in a 2 minute summary. I actually do like my job - I make other people's lives easier by doing admin things they hate. But it doesn't really compete with trips to Mali; stories of changing NHS working practices for the benefit of patients etc. And because there are other accountants/doctors in the room, they all want to talk shop, rather than talk about more general topics
I think the real problem here is your self-confidence.
If I heard a person say that someone would be better off with a science degree etc, it would have no impact on me whatsoever. Why feel 'galled'?
It's not you, it's them.
I would find talking to people about their jobs really boring. I don't want to talk about mine either. I might confirm that yes, I still have a job and am not at risk of redundancy.
Normal small talk is about the things you mentioned - holiday plans, house decorations, etc.
As a former accountant, I reserve the right to have found it the dictionary definition of boring! I do admit to being biased on this count.
But if someone thinks that they are much more interesting and worthwhile than others just by virtue of being an accountant (as op's relatives seem to do) I'd bet they fit my description pretty well
Why not take control of the situation and just change the subject? Just launch in with 'Did DH tell you? We have booked a cottage in Snowdonia for half term' or whatever.
If it would give you more confidence, you could prepare a few such topics in advance of the family party, so you are ready to use them as needed.
>>People mostly want to talk about themselves. Get them doing that and they'll think you're marvellous.
Plus mug up on an interesting/amusing anecdote or joke they are likely to be interested in and will get a laugh and bung that in too. You can introduce anything with either of these:
"I read the other day"
"Or a friend of mine was telling me"
"That reminds me..."
Don't over think it or it will look too contrived. The best ones are short true life stories (Churchill is always a good source of these kind of things) that are vaguely amusing, but old jokes would do as well.
Google for true life anecdotes/stories in whatever topic you think may interest your audience (like medicine for example). You only need one or two.
Quiz them about themselves (act REALLY interested) and chuck in one amusing story that gets a laugh and people will think you are charm itself.
They are being tossers. It doesn't matter what you did for a job, they'd still not want to talk about it - my dhs's family (not high flying) are the same, and I have an interesting, globe trotting job. They never ask about it, or dh's (interesting, his cases are often in the news) job, or are interested in ds.
I don't know anyone who wants to talk about their work all the time. They clearly need a bit of help from you. You need to steer the conversation in a more interesting direction.....
Are you watching the rugby world cup?
Have you had any damage in storm Isobel?
Have you booked a holiday this year?
Have you seen any good films / shows / concerts recently?
What are you reading at the moment?
Wow, they sound v dull, OP. Some people have no self awareness and have a v solipsistic viewpoint. My job is interesting, to me. Why should anyone else have any interest in it? I'm not a heart surgeon or a stunt double, which are possibly a couple of professions that are actually of interest to others. People who talk about themselves endlessly, they are the ones with no social skills. And people who talk about their kids as if they are the only children on the planet. Dull. My ex was like this, as soon as he met people he would launch into boasting about her and getting the photos out, I could see the eyes glazing over in front of me, but then, he had v little self awareness, one of the reasons I finished with him. People who are engaging, who have stories to tell, who are down to earth and comfortable being open, these are the people who I hope to be seated next to at a dinner party.
Thanks all. It probably is partly my self-confidence and you have given me some great ideas about how to turn the tables. I come from a tiny family, so find such gatherings a bit bewildering (although I cope fine in a group of colleagues or friends!) They are the sort of very formal family, who are open about nothing and there are a huge number of no-go areas, so I think that's why they all stick to work. But I can't detonate any atom bombs by innocently asking about the things you mention (or so I hope ..!)
You could always move to Australia: nobody ever asks you about yourself.
Turn the conversation back to them. People love to talk about themselves ad inifinitum and will think you are wonderful at the end of it.
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