I'm slowly going through my "Relationships for social retards" book (I was hoping there was a chapter called "Chat-up lines that really work" but there isn't) and it's one of those things that kinda tells you what you already knew but never thought about. It organises and arranges things in a way that makes you go "I never thought about it that way." One thing it touched on was the importance of small talk to NTs, which is something we all know of but don't care for ourselves. The book explained that NTs themselves are probably not enamoured with the small talk, but that the small talk is a scatter-gun type approach until someone hits on something that both people can engage in and it turns into a "real" conversation. I actually found quite a good example of it while watching Big Brother on television. Two bores were exchanging tedium when all of a sudden one mentioned something seemingly trivial that sparked the other's interest and they went on to talk about their new-found common interest.
My problem with small-talk (well, one of them) is that I am so out of practice that nothing comes naturally, and when put on the spot my mind goes blank but I do often think of things I should have said later on. Today, for example, I went for a drink with some colleagues after work and one of them asked me if I had any plans for the weekend. Now I never really do, I just do whatever, I like being on my own and "having plans" usually involves other people. Obviously I didn't say any of that, just that I didn't have plans and I elaborated a little saying that now my regular venues have closed down I'm feeling a bit lost for things to do at the weekend. Anyway, that was the end of that conversation and it was only a fair while after that it struck me that the proper thing to do after I said my plans was to ask her what her plans were. Not only would that have elongated the conversation and maybe brought something up we could use to continue talking about, it would also have shown a reciprocal interest. As it was it ended up quite a one-sided and selfish exchange whereas I could have shown her that I was also interested in what she had to say and what she was doing.
Of course none of this is of any use hours later, is it? I'm going to have to get into the habit of directing people's questions back to them when I'm finished talking. To be honest I find it awkward and forced having to return the question as to me it seems that I'm only asking them because they asked me and not because it's a genuine interest. Maybe that's the biggest thing I have to get over? Although it seems forced to me, to NTs it's perfectly normal and natural behaviour.