Focusing on asking people about themselves is not an antidote to “being bad at small talk” — it is an antidote to “making everything about me all the time.”
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the primary function of those speech acts is social, not to say something but to do something, i.e., make contact, reaffirm shared membership in a common tribe (whatever it may be), express positive feelings (and thus lack of threat), show concern, and so forth. These are not unimportant things, not "small" at all, really, but they are different from communicating semantic content.
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