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The Book of Na'Lon

or rather, Inane Ramblings of an Expatriot

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Of Talking to People
A friend posted something on her lj that made me think.

I think most people that know me in real life would consider me to be fairly sociable and good at talking to people. I suppose I am - I can talk to pretty much anyone (as long as we speak roughly the same language) - but, like most of the people I know - I do not find it easy to talk to people. It costs me a lot of effort and I do get peopled out. Even if the people are friends.

Over the years I have learnt a few things about talking to people. There are ways of cutting a conversation short (politely) if it's not going to go anywhere or indeed of making it worthwhile. So my remedy against having to make smalltalk is two-fold: I bore people rigid by talking about my research or history, or I admit to being a role-player, costumer, Tolkien fan and scare them off. As a result I have had some interesting conversations.

But there are times when there is a good reason to make smalltalk, and I do so on those occasions. Or I find ways of telling people I am a geek in muggle terms. E.g. I am involved with an improvisation drama group and I am a member of an educational charity. ;-)

The most interesting outcome of this strategy is, however, that I now actually have a couple of muggle friends who do know about my geekdom and don't sneer, but meet me on a Monday with greetings such as: "How was the role-playing?" or "How is your writing going?" Nix is one of these. She may never want to join an RPG or want to read what I write, but she respects that this stuff is real and important to me.

As for those people that give me funny looks in response to my topics of conversation... do I really want to prolong my encounters with them?


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I never find it easy to talk to people, but I don't find that having unusual interests makes it harder. If anything, it makes it easier. People might think my interests are strange, but they often seem interested - in the way that people are interested in a glimpse into the domestic life of a bizarre species of animal.

I normally admit to Morris dancing within a few minutes of meeting someone. It provides a ready-made ice-breaker, and initial topic of conversation. Without it, I'd find dinners at work-related conferences etc. a lot harder. I find a surprising number of people admit that they've always fancied role-playing, or Morris dancing, but were only held back by the fear that everyone would think they were weird. That allows me to feel properly smug and mature, that I'm above such things.

When people do try to get dismissive and sneery of my interests, I have certain ready-prepared plans of attack to launch on them, and I usually turn them into gibbering, repentent wrecks. *evil laugh*

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