I don’t know about you, but small talk didn’t always come easy for me. I never knew what to say and I always worried about saying the wrong thing. I found it difficult, tedious and nerve-wracking.
But eventually, after a lot of trial and error, I think I’ve figured out a few tricks that might help you if you’re like I used to be.
1. Understand that the purpose of small talk is not to exchange information.
It is a game you play to find things you have in common with the other person. Decide to be curious about the other person and go fishing for what you have in common. When you are genuinely interested in other people they will respond positively to your questions and to the way you listen to what they have to say.
Also… when you take the pressure off yourself to be a great conversationalist and become a detective searching for commonality the conversation tends to take care of itself.
Because people like people that are like them. The more commonality you discover, the more the other person will like you and feel as if they have known you for some time. This, in turn, causes the conversation to flow.
2. Give first to encourage sharing.
If all you do is ask questions the other person will feel as if they are being interrogated. That is not the idea! Be prepared to reveal something about yourself first without getting too personal. By sharing first, you are leading the way and cause the other person to feel obligated to return the favor.
Sharing and receiving in this way allows you to take charge of any conversation and to easily lead it where you want to go. Which leads us to our last point…
3. Aim to control the conversation.
If you can lead a conversation you can control it. You now know how to lead any conversation? Points 1 & 2! Give first and watch the other person respond. Most people will follow your lead right away. And if they don’t, just move on to someone else.
So, there you have it. Use these three tips to improve your small talk! And remember... The key to success with these tips is to use them, play with them and then adjust them to suit you.
Practice makes perfect. Use it next time you’re at the grocery store… or at one of your children’s school play…
Practice there, and then when you need it for a networking event or something like that, you’ll feel much more confident and comfortable!