Only the most outgoing extrovert will not shy away from many social situations. Even then, it can be a pain to make small talk. It’s not just about personality types, almost everyone wants to avoid awkward situations as much as possible.
Small talk makes everyone uncomfortable because it feels superficial and a waste of time. But what if you can make small talk meaningful? Will it curb the awkwardness level for you?
The answer is still no. It will still feel the same until the time that you’ve practiced enough you’ll no longer notice. The point is that small talk may seem like idle chitchat, but the fact is you can’t get into deeper conversations without it.
The rules of small talk
- It’s not about you.
Listen to the other person. Remember details about his/her story and ask why and how questions. The key is to ask questions that shouldn’t be answered by yes or no. Be curious enough to dig deeper, but remember your boundaries.
- Hide your phone.
Nothing screams like “I don’t want to talk!” than to have your phone out in front of your face. If you’re not expecting an urgent call/text, just put your phone in your pocket or purse.
- Build up the conversation.
If you need a template for building up conversation, this is for you:
- Talk about what you’re both experiencing at the moment. For example, the music at the party, the weather, the food.
- Lead into revealing something about yourself. For example, you like the Green Day set, the weather reminds you of home, the food combinations you liked.
- Snowball the conversation by reacting to the other person’s questions. Example, your similarities/dissimilarities and experiences.
- Remember names.
Be mindful and present. Remember a few details about every conversation. Most of all, remember names. Do your homework beforehand if you can. If there are people there that you have a passing knowledge about, it’s not creepy to know a little bit about what they do or what interests them.
- Quick getaway.
When things are not working, and believe me sometimes it doesn’t. It’s better to get away quickly to avoid an awkward situation. For example, say that you need to go to the restroom or you need a refill your drink. Better to have these excuses than be awkward. These type of exit strategies will allow you to reenter the conversation if necessary.
By mastering the art of small talk, you have a direct line to these deeper conversations. Talking about your interests and learning about other people’s interest is a great reward. Who knows, maybe this small talk can be a start to an epic friendship or business relationship.
Even if you fail, charge it to experience and practice again. The more you practice talking with people, the less you’ll feel weirded out about it.
In addition, meeting people is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in your life.