How To Make Small Talk
Making small talk is a necessary skill in many aspects of life. A new friendship will in most cases start off with casual conversation about general topics, as well as business and work often requiring you to network. Even when searching for a partner you will need to master the art of small talk.
It can be challenging and seem some what meaningless, especially to introverts. However, there is no doubt you will appear more friendly and open if you manage to keep up conversations with strangers and acquaintances. All it takes is some practice and a bit of thought.
There are many ways you can build up your confidence when it comes to small talk. One of the main problems people experience when trying to keep up a conversation is that they are unsure what to talk about. Try to think about what interests you; your hobbies, articles and books you have read lately or a new CD you bought last week. Your passions are the best source of small talk.
It also helps to widen your horizons if you want to come off as an interesting and entertaining conversation partner. Update yourself on topics that you know little about, go eat at new restaurants or watch a movie you would normally not go see.
Practice in front of a mirror on how to appear open and approachable. Smile, make eye contact and look interested. Talk to yourself about various topics to see how it goes. Try to spot your weak points and work on them.
You need to start talking, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel in the beginning. Practice makes perfect. You will find that the more you do it, the more natural it will come to you. Start conversing with those you come across during the course of the day. The cashier at your local bank, the person in front of you in a queue, the old woman sitting next to you on the bus. You will soon notice that not only does it brighten your day, it will probably brighten theirs as well.
The work place is a great arena for small talk. Building relationships with co-workers is rewarding in many ways. You will feel more comfortable while performing your job if you get to know your colleagues, the networking effect will help your career chances and you will come off as a social and friendly person. Did you know that a large percentage of people find their future husband or wife at work?
The possible pitfalls
Discussing religion or politics can make you seem as an opinionated and interesting person, but it may also offend those around you. If you find it hard to judge your crowd, you are better off staying away from controversial topics. Stories involving sex or rude words also have the potential to insult someone.
Make sure that you don't get too personal with strangers. Talking about how your child is doing in school is fine, telling someone about your horrible ex is not. Avoid subjects that can make your conversation partner feel uncomfortable.
Perfecting your art
To be a good talker, you need to be a good listener. Keep your attention fixed on the person you are conversing with. Letting your eyes wander around the room and seeming bored is considered rude by most people. Focus on being an active listener; ask follow up questions and make comments relating to what they are talking about.
At most social gatherings you will benefit from keeping chats short and sweet. When it is time to move on you should excuse yourself politely. If you go to fill up your drink, make a trip to the bathroom or sit down to have some food, ending your current conversation will come naturally. Either way, make your goodbye civil and respectful. It may help to memorize a few exit lines: “I see a friend of mine over there, I should go and say hello”, “Let me refresh our drinks” or “I guess we should mingle a bit” will be sufficient.