The Neurotic’s Guide to Small Talk

Oh, God. It's really happening.

Did you see this hilarious guide to small talk? I’m more of the analyze-everything-I-said-once-I’m-in-bed-afterward type of partygoer, but this still made me laugh out loud…

Q: “What time is it?”

Look at your watch. It’s 6:47. Do you say “quarter to 7”? Maybe. That’s probably safe. But then what if this person has somewhere to be at 7? Now your whole “quarter to 7” statement makes her think she has an extra two minutes to get there. Cut to 13 minutes from now and that person is late for her extremely important obligation. Say “6:48.” Yes. That’s good. Breathe.

Q: “Where do you work?”

Go to the bathroom. Now, now, now. This conversation has shifted dramatically, and you need to get out of there. Say something like, “Be right back,” or “Gotta go pee,” but don’t say it too loud, or too weird. Say it normal, for crying out loud. BE NORMAL.

Real the full guide here. Still laughing at the last one.

P.S. “What We’re Reading” features interesting articles — on all kinds of topics — that we find during the week. I know most of you are big readers. Hope you like it!

(Illustration by Leif Parsons for the NYTimes)

  1. I love this post because it has full of quality info.

  2. Thanks for the late night laugh ;)

  3. Molly says...

    Made me laugh out loud in my cubicle…now everyone knows I am 100% not doing work.

    • Haha! I have two of my boys’ friends here today and I’m grinning but containing the laughter! This doesn’t look very “normal” either. Laughing out loud seems too be the only honest way…ha!
      So funny. Great article.


      P.S. of course I see my comment is quite neurotic as well, LOL!

  4. Lauren E. says...

    This is so me! The worst is running into someone I know only very casually on the subway. I’ve switched cars before to avoid making chit chat…

  5. This is just too funny♥

  6. Jenn says...

    Oh my god, this is so me! I feel like lawschool does this to you though! It makes you question everything! When I was still a student, and someone asked me my name, I remember thinking, “my first name, or my last name? or both? including my middle name? The name my friends call me?” When I finally said “Jenn”, they responded “first and last?” and I remember thinking, “Oh good, I’m not the weirdo in this situation!”

  7. Jamie says...

    Yes, this. And then we get home and my boyfriend will say something like, “You should’ve said blah blah blah, that would’ve been so funny!” I know he just means it literally, that it would’ve been funny… but it makes me feel even worse, like yeah well obviously, I didn’t think of that at the time, don’t make me feel worse! He doesn’t have social anxiety.

  8. Carmen B. says...

    Yeah, I like exact times.

  9. Alice Quin says...

    Lol so good. And this, my friends, is why I don’t go to big holiday parties.

  10. Oh man, I’m pretty neurotic and if I ask someone the time and they say something vague like “quarter of”, I always follow up with “no, what time is it specifically”. A few times they haven’t wanted to bother looking at their watch again and I have had to ask someone else for fear of looking like a total loon.

    (in my head) I can’t trust anyone that doesn’t use specific numeric times.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “(in my head) I can’t trust anyone that doesn’t use specific numeric times.”
      hahahaha love it.

  11. Mary Jenkins says...


  12. Mary Jenkins says...

    too funny and true. i’m laugh out loud.

  13. Kim says...

    I love this.