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March 06, 2010



Hmm...I don't know if it's silence we abhor or the isolation silence brings.

I've been on long elevator rides with a group of strangers where everyone smiled and nodded but no one felt the need to speak. Those same elevator rides with one other person however have almost universally generated small talk.

In a large group simple acknowledgement seems to be enough. One on one however, we seem to crave confirmation that we are not alone. Many times this needed go beyond "good morning", but sometimes one person involved is so without companionship, (or so ingrained to interact), they cannot help but attempt a full conversation no matter how trivial it may be.

Yes, there are some people who are frightened by silence and others who love to hear themselves speak. But I think both are part of a longing to "be seen" more than any need to "be heard" which is why they aren't really saying anything of consequence.

Just my two cents, feel free to give back change :)



In a past life (meaning, many moons ago), I worked in Human Resources, and for some reason we all took a fairly complicated personality test. Mine came back saying that I need that buffer before we get down to business. That bit of chit chat, whether it's important or not. I'll admit that it's true. If someone were to call me into their office and say, "I need you to do this and that", and nothing else, I would be uncomfortable and think I had done something wrong or they were unhappy with my performance. If, however, they prefaced with, "Hi Julie, how are you? Good. I have a couple of things I'd like to talk about today", and then get on to the list of tasks, I take that much better, feel comfortable and like things are going well. Odd how people are wired differently, isn't it?

Then again, the two conversations you mentioned are extremely lame, and I would feel no need to be involved in either. But I might have done a bit of 'buffering' if I were that salesman.


One of the things that I really like about living in France is that in general, people don't feel the need to be chatty with strangers. On the rare occasion that I do encounter a chatty stranger, I often pull the dumb foreigner card. "Désolée... je comprend pas... je parle pas le français trés bien."

Most people won't bother past that. Does it make me a rude person? Maybe. I figure it just makes me a person who'd rather be left alone, or capable of dealing with silence.

Your first example in the waiting room reminds me of every visit that my husband & I make to the U.S. He often tells me, "I don't get it... why do people here always have to have meaningless conversations with strangers? What they say means nothing & they don't even mean what they say."

Magnon International

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Interesting post. I mostly stand quietly in line, hoping no one invades my space. : )

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