So you are off to a party where you only know one person and you are feeling a little anxious. Making small talk at these events is not easy, especially if you are an introvert or If your socializing skills are a little rusty. Talking with strangers can be awkward, stilted, and mildly painful but there is an art to small talk, and it can be mastered. Once you get past the small talk and et the conversation going, you should have little problem maintaining that momentum—but for most of us, getting it started is the hardest part. In this article, we will discuss tips that will help you master the art of small talk.
So what is small talk and why is it so important? Small talk is defined as the use of casual conversation about relatable topics with the goal of getting a sense for another person and beginning to establish rapport. We can use small talk to begin conversations with new acquaintances or people we know. It is a ‘soft’ way of making a connection with someone that can lead to a more serious conversation. If done correctly, making small talk with someone can lay the foundation for a potential relationship with this person. It helps demonstrate your communication style, which can be an effective way to develop and extend your personal and professional networks. Engaging in small talk also makes you likeable. People are attracted to those who are confident enough to engage in a comfortable conversation.
- Positive body language will make you more approachable: open stance, eye contact, and smile. Casual eye contact and a warm friendly smile demonstrate your interest and desire to communicate. Acknowledge statements with a nod, comment or question when appropriate.
- Be prepared: A good conversationalist engages the listener and stimulates the conversation. Keep up with trends and current events so you’ll have something to talk about. Create a small-talk Top 10 list. Identify five things that you enjoy talking about and can talk about easily. List five subjects that you don’t know much about but would enjoy learning about from others.
- Aim to make the other person feel at ease: One thing to keep in mind if you are not sure where to start is to aim to make the person you are talking to feel at ease and be genuinely interested in them. Compliment or praise them if you can. Aim to make their day a little brighter. Smile
- Take the initiative and be the first to say hello. the hardest thing to do is to go up to someone and introduce yourself. Be the first to say hello and introduce yourself and ask an open-ended question. This not only demonstrates confidence and shows interest in the other person, but it gives you an opportunity to guide the conversation.
- Begin with statements or questions about the immediate environment, situation, weather, how the person arrived at your location, et cetera. A compliment is also a great way to start a conversation.
- Respond enthusiastically: If it’s your turn to respond, make sure to do it enthusiastically. You’re talking to someone who doesn’t know you very well, and how you respond can go a long way in helping establish a great rapport from the start. Make sure to respond in a way the other person feels valued and respected.
- Relax and be present in the conversation: Rather than try to plan what you will say next, relax and focus on what the other person is actually saying.
- Focus on the other person and less on yourself. This will help you feel less self-conscious, and make the other person feel important.
- Be an active listener: Control internal and external distractions. Be present; watch the tendency to daydream. Truly listening to another person is the highest compliment you can pay them. Make sure to show them you are attentive by using non-verbal cues, such as eye contact and nodding.
- Discuss general-interest subjects: such as movies, theater, sports, books, movies, food, travel and hobbies. It demonstrates to others that you are approachable and friendly.
- Get comfortable with pauses: The art of small talk is not only about conversing, but also about learning how to be comfortable with pauses in conversation. It’s fairly common for small talk to die down, leading to an ‘awkward’ pause in conversation. However, pauses don’t have to be awkward. “It’s OK to let a moment or two of silence to pass by and to think rather than fill it up with words. Be comfortable with silence and start a new topic when you’ve had time to think.
- Think before you speak: It makes you appear thoughtful; and it may help you avoid a faux pas, or saying something that is better left unsaid.
- Recognize cues: Introverts are often misunderstood. Other people may interpret the introvert’s reserved nature as snobbish, or they may find an introvert’s deep passion for a particular topic to be too intense or serious. As an introvert, you can search for cues and learn to respond appropriately. For example, if the other person seems taken aback by your reserved nature, be sure to smile and express genuine enthusiasm in the conversation. Or if the other person starts to get fidgety while you’re speaking at length on a subject, it’s probably time to switch to another topic or wrap up the conversation.
- Always close a conversation before walking away from the other person: How you exit the conversation can determine how your relationship is going to unfold moving forward. by using a graceful exit line; don’t simply melt from conversations. “It’s been great talking with you. I really enjoyed hearing about…”
Avoid these subjects with others you don’t know very well:
- Your health or diet habits.
- The cost of things.
- Personal questions.
- Mean gossip.
- Off-color jokes.
- Controversial issues, such as politics or religion, when you don’t know the others in the group.
Small talk may sometimes be stressful but view it as an opportunity to learn more about other people. You never know whom you’ll meet or what they’ll have to share. Smiling and saying hello to strangers are powerful communications and when done consistently will make you a more likeable and approachable person, and increase your happiness. The key is to get over your preconceived notions and hesitations and to embrace the reality of small talk. With a little practice and more confidence, you should have no problem starting a conversation with anybody, anywhere.