Small talk is basically chit chatting and a great way of increasing your personal and social effectiveness. If you look around you today, you’ll notice that networking is now the order of the day, it is therefore crucial that you have the ability to small talk else you’ll be left on the side wall in conversations.
That’s all small talk is – a quick way to connect on a human level – which is why it is by no means as irrelevant as the people who are bad at it insist. In short, it’s worth making the effort.
– Lynn Coady
Are you gifted when it comes to chit chatting, or do you dread social engagements because you don’t like making small-talk? While some people tend to shy away from small-talk, it is quite an essential skill to have. The ability to speak comfortably with strangers, coworkers, and casual acquaintances is valuable. Small talk is a great way to make new friends and maybe even find a new career opportunity.
Below are useful tips to help you develop your gift of small talk:
1. Be Ready to talk
Don’t get caught out but be prepared to have a few things to talk about beforehand. If you’re goiing to a party or other social gathering, think of two or three things you can bring up as conversation topics. It could be something interesting that’s happening in your life or a current affairs.
2. Be curious
Show that you’re interested and the other people will find you interesting. Pretend you’re a detective trying to find out more about the other person. Be curious and ask questions.
3. Ask the right questions
Avoid simple one-word-answer questions. These are questions like, “Where are you from?” or “What do you do for a living?” Instead, ask questions that require lengthier answers. Starting a sentence with “why” or “how” is a good bet. Get the other person talking and relax. Here are a few ideas:
- Would you rather work for 10-hour days or five eight-hour days?
- Are you reading any good books right now? I’d love some recommendations.
- Are there any foods that you absolutely would not eat?
- What’s the next trip you have planned?
- How would you spend your time if you didn’t have to work?
4. Be a Good listener
Listening is very crucial in every conversation. To become an excellent conversationalist you need to be a good listener and one way to show you are is by asking a few, good questions and giving your full attention to the other person. Hang on their every word and listen attentively whilst maintaining a good eye contact, giving the impression that you’re fascinated with them.
5. Put your phone away
Technology has a way of making one look like an individual that cares less about one another as more and more people tend to fiddle with their phones rather than have face-to-face conversations. Studies have shown that participants in a conversation are less satisfied with the conversation if a phone was present. It didn’t matter if the phone was on the table and never touched! Keep your phone out of sight. You can check your text messages later.
6. keep practicing
One thing the world has plenty of is people. Use them to practice your small-talk skills. Whenever you’re out of the house, find an excuse to strike up a 2-minute conversation. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your skills and comfort grow.
7. Have reasonable expectations
One little chat is unlikely to lead to a great love affair, a promotion, or the most interesting conversation you’ve ever had. That’s good news! You can relax and enjoy the conversation for what it is – an enjoyable, low-stress, social interaction.
8. Know when to End the conversation
Many small-talk conversations die quickly. It’s not necessary to hang in there until the bitter end. Have a few escapes lined up in advance, such as:
- Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Karen.
- It’s been a pleasure. I have to say hello to a client.
9. Avoid sharing too much
Talking about the weather is boring. However, talking about your child-custody battle with a stranger is sharing too much. Be interesting without making the conversation uncomfortable.
10. Keep moving
Enjoy yourself. If you’re not finding pleasure in a particular conversation, you’re free to move on to another. Bow out gracefully and look for greener pastures.
Small talk is a skill that requires practice, provided you do not give up and keep practicing, you’ll always find opportunities to practice and gain the experience. Small-talk skills can enhance your social life and your career. You might even learn to enjoy chatting with a stranger.