Dale Carnegie once said, “If you want to be interesting, be interested. All you have to do to make small talk with people is take a genuine interest in them.”
For many of us, striking up a conversation with strangers is sometimes extremely awkward and mentally exhausting. It could be because of introvertedness, social anxiety, or that we simply dislike chit-chat and don’t know what to say in such situations. Let’s face it, for how long can you talk about the weather before the conversation dwindles, right?
But truth be known, small talk is difficult to avoid. From shopping to waiting in line for something, there is always an opportunity for small talk. Also, contrary to popular belief, small talk could be more than just chit-chat. It’s a valuable tool to build connections, widen your social circles, and boost your self-confidence. No matter how much we dread it or try to avoid it, small talk could actually work in our favour.
The Mantra for the month of October focused on acing the art of small talk and reaping the many benefits it could get us.
Truly being present in a conversation involves listening to the other person and paying attention to non-verbal communication, like body language, pauses, facial expressions etc.
One of the first rules of small talk is to identify the commonalities. It could be a common friend or even a situation you and the other person may have been in. In the case of a stranger, you can start by talking about the place you both are meeting at. Common experiences can help you break the ice and you’ll be able to connect on a deeper level and build upon it.
Having a few standard small talk topics up your sleeve won’t just help you kick off great conversations, it will also relieve some of the anxiety of walking into an unknown environment. You can start by discussing the surroundings, a movie or a sports match you enjoyed lately, any place you travelled to, etc.
4. Be comfortable with pauses
Small talk can sometimes die down and lead to an ‘awkward’ pause in the conversation. It’s fairly common and it is okay to let a few moments of silence pass before you can think of a new topic to talk about.
5. Ask deeper, open-ended questions, and follow-up queries
Ask open-ended questions that require more than a one-word reply. Every question you ask has the potential to narrow or expand the dialogue. Instead of asking “What” questions, try asking “Why” and “How” questions. It encourages introspection and conveys that you are genuinely interested in the other person’s experiences.
So the next time you find yourself in a situation that demands small talk, don’t fret and try these simple tricks. Small talk is like any other social skill – it can be learnt with practice over time. Go on, engage in some chit-chat!
What are your go-to questions when you indulge in small talk? Share in the comments below and help others!
Rakshanda believes that stories can change the world and loves doing everything to bring them forth. She is a lover of dark humour and doesn’t mean most of it (well, almost!). An exceptional cook from a young age, she adores connecting with people over recipes and hot beverages. She prefers the company of doggos over humans and can be seen adding all things art to her Pinterest board during her free time. Got a recipe to share or story to tell? Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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