Art of small speak dying as virtually 9 in 10 Brits wrestle to make dialog

We have lost the art of making small talk.

Nearly nine in 10 struggle to make every day conversation, according to boffins. A whopping 88% of young folk aged under 40 say they find small talk difficult and awkward.

The nation’s fear of chatting is so strong that more than four in 10 (45%) have pretended not to see someone they know on the street to avoid it.

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And a similar number (40%) look in the opposite direction to avoid having to chat according to the survey of 2,000 Brits by bus operator First Bus.

A third have actively crossed the road to swerve someone, while more than a quarter routinely pretend to be on a phone call.

More than four in 10 (45%) have pretended not to see someone they know on the street to avoid it (stock)

Never knowing what to say (56%), feeling self-conscious (41%) and stumbling over the words (36%) are the main concerns about chit-chatting with strangers.

On average, Brits can make small talk for seven minutes before panicking and the conversation completely drying up, with the weather still our go-to topic.

As astonishing nine in ten say talking casually to others can be painful, especially over long periods of time.

Psychologist Dr Tara Quinn-Cirillo warned of the dangers of a lack of everyday human contact in society.

Nearly nine in ten struggle to make every day conversation (stock)

She said: “Humans are inherently social beings, so a lack of purposeful connection can negatively impact physical and mental health, with loneliness now classed as a public health issue by the World Health Organisation.

“This research reveals that anxiety about talking to others can be a huge barrier to connection and starting conversations, which can lead to people avoiding them altogether.

“We can all make a huge difference through a smile and a ‘hello’, so I encourage people to reconsider engaging with their community, starting with the basics of small talk.”

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