Small talk. Some people like it, and some people don’t. I for one happen to be very good at small talk. In fact, I have been able to develop close friendships with people using little to no “deep” conversations. Just from a few chats with people I could learn more about their personality than I could from weeks of deep one on one. So it should come as no surprise when I say that I am still learning to have deep, vulnerable conversations. Actually, I just recently started learning. Before internship I didn’t see any need for deep conversations.
I remember one afternoon I was sitting in a circle with my team. We were talking about likes, dislikes, and interests just to get to know each other. Then one person said, “I hate small talk.” Another joined in, “Yeah, me too. I can’t stand it!” One member even said, “I just don’t do small talk." I didn’t pay too much mind to it. After all, how can someone not “do” small talk? They have to engage in it some time or another, right? If that is true I still have yet to catch them in the act.
To my dismay, I watched as everything was turned into deep conversation. It felt as though I could have asked what my team’s favorite cereal was and I would have received a deep, philosophical answer! This wouldn’t be a problem if deep conversation wasn’t so painfully slow, and if I had more experience in it. I realized that there would be no way that I could communicate with my team unless something changed, and that something had to be me. After all, the only person I can change is me. I started learning to think deep answers, and ask deep questions. The result was open communication!
Though I did not know it then I was practicing what I like to call, “micro cultural communication.” My team and I all speak the same language, we all eat the same food, and we all follow the same God. However, this experience made me realize that each person is their own culture. Being a cultural communicator isn’t always following the traditions of a foreign group of people. In fact, most of the time it is noticing a slight difference between people and adapting to it in order to better your communication.
//Jonathan Ricks//2016 Ambassador