Beware: There are small talk criminals lurking everywhere. The coffee shop, your kids’ school, the gym, the office, the dinner party. These brazen bullies strike quickly and without warning – and they don’t care who they hurt. My ongoing series, Talk Tyrants, serves two purposes: it allows you the chance to escape the attack of THESE villainous creatures and it guarantees that you will never fall into a life of small talk crime. Here we go:
The Advisor is loud and proud, boldly applying her plethora of solutions to any and every problem littering the scene. There is no problem too big or too small for The Advisor! And there is no need to ask The Advisor for advice – you’re going to get it one way or another.
How to Spot The Advisor:
- The Advisor is upbeat, confident, peppy, and talkative: (Jane-)- Hi, Ben, what’s happening with work?
- The Advisor nods and smiles when others answer, but is secretly prepping to pounce with unmerited advice: (Ben)–Work is great, but so busy. I feel like I can’t catch up most days!
- ATTACK: (Jane)–You know, Ben, you should hire an assistant. I’ve told you that before. You make plenty of money but you’re never going to get ahead until you get some help in there.
- The Advisor ignores the fact that Ben’s eyes have either rolled back in his head from boredom or that he is whittling down his butter knife to use as a weapon on the small talk criminal sitting beside him.
How to Deal with The Advisor:
- Nod, smile, and change the subject: (Ben)-–Enough about my crazy work schedule, Jane , tell me about your vacation.
- Nod, smile, and move away from The Advisor: (Ben)–Good to see you again Jane; excuse me; I want to catch up with Natalie before she leaves.
- Nod, smile, and stop The Advisor dead in her tracks: (Ben)– Oops! Did you think I needed advice? I am actually thrilled things are busy at work. I consider it job security, especially after the quiet summer. Pass the bread and the butter knife, please.
- Use humor: (Ben)–Jane! You sound like my mother! I’ve been in this business for twenty years, but when I need advice, you’re my girl! Deal?
The Advisor is missing something crucial: the ability to truly empathize with his or her conversation cohort. Ben didn’t want advice; he wanted support, understanding, and acknowledgement. Jane could say something more straightforward like: Oh, Ben that must be tough with such a high-profile project. Recognize that someone’s need to share is not the same as a request for help. And if you aren’t able to keep your advice to yourself, I highly recommend you steer clear of the butter knife.