In part of an answer to a question related to discussion, someone made this statement:
Save non-work-related chat until the whole team is out of flow.
With my experience, I am terrible at reading people, to see if they are open to casual talk for a while, or if they don't want their work to be interrupted, so I don't know when to start chatting with them. Also, my own life isn't very interesting to talk about, as I don't go out on a typical weekend. I don't want to start talking "just because".
I am good at staying focused on my own work all time, but usually when I talk I tend to catch people at a bad time (they are quickly interrupted by some work-related order). And at work there are conversations that can be over 15 minutes long.
This is not a problem for me in non-work related situations, such as a friendly outing or a party, because I know people want to talk. But at work I either risk being labeled a shut-in or a guy who slacks off too much. How do I balance it? How do I know when to start/finish a chat, and make it sound natural without being forced or contrived?