Why should you want to master the art of small talk? Even the most socially-adept people can find themselves in an uncomfortable silence, while for the socially-anxious, even the thought of striking up a conversation can be daunting. Small talk comes in handy in various situations: you might be networking; you might need to change an awkward subject; there might be topics you have to avoid; and of course, there are those deathly silences when the other person is waiting for you to say something because they can’t think of anything to say themselves. If you master the art of small talk you will have a powerful conversational ally for business and social occasions of all sorts.
If you want to master anything then you need to force yourself into multiple situations where you may practice. If you want to master the art of small talk then you need to start putting yourself into situations where small talk is required. Do not start out within the dating scene as there is too much pressure. Find places where small talk is common, even if this means talking to strangers on a train or in an elevator.
This is one of the most potent tools that will help you master the art of small talk. If the question may be answered with one sentence then it is not open enough. Asking a takeaway server if he or she has been busy is not good enough. Instead, ask things such as how many years the person has worked there, or better still ask what their best food items are.
Continuing a conversation is difficult for some people. You can make it easier if you relate things back to what people say by including things from your own life. Any comment or situation may be allied to an experience of your own. If people tell you about where they have been, then detail a few pointers about when you went there, or a similar place you went, or how you would like to go there, or detail something you heard or read about the place.
If you have a popular partner then you will notice how he or she often tells the same story to numerous people. If you are with that person all day then it is annoying to you, but see how other people’s faces light up as your partner tells the same candid story to other people. The story can be anything about anything, such as how you accidentally dropped your phone into a cup of tea and the fluid got into the microphone. You called your mother and the damaged microphone made it sound as if you were making a scary phone call. It is simple, it is relatable and it is amusing for anyone hearing it for the first time.
Concentrating too hard and trying too hard will come across as such. Lean back, rest on something, and relax your whole body. You will find that the tension disappears from the conversation and that the small talk flows more easily and freely as a result.
People who want to learn how to make small talk are often very self conscious. It is okay to make a fool of yourself because if you let go of that fear then the conversation will flow more freely. Look into ways that you may free yourself from your own inhibitions and fears of rejection or looking foolish. It frees you up to become more socially adept. We only learn by our mistakes.
One of the biggest restrictors that makes small talk difficult is the idea that you have to please the other person. Your pleasure is all that matters. If you are not having fun or are not mildly amused then it is the fault of the other person. If you want to talk about fun topics or things that interest you then do. If you have to talk to a person because of work, keep topics about work if you cannot create your own rapport. Tell them things about work that the outsider will not know; make the things you tell them candid but that are not going to compromise the business in any way.
I’m not pretending it is easy to learn how to make small talk. I am a naturally garrulous person and am lucky in that I can always crack a funny when I need to. If you can’t be off the cuff, the key is being prepared. It doesn’t matter if your opening is about the weather, as long as you can keep it going. The more you try, the more you will master the art of small talk and it becomes natural! Do you find yourself lost for small talk and part of awkward silences?
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