Small talk is often perceived as fake or shallow, but nevertheless one tends to be self-conscious if one doesn’t know how to make small talk with people. That’s because conversations, especially with people that you don’t know well, often start with small talk.
If people don’t know how to do it, they can spend their time in social situations standing on the sidelines not speaking and not being spoken to. That is a shame and just a few simple pointers on how to make small talk with people can increase your confidence greatly in social situations.
Small talk is no small matter; it’s actually quite a big deal in terms of how useful it is for bonding people socially; it a great way to get to know people. Being willing and able to use small talk actually tells the other person that you are interested in them.
In order to get anything back from the people that you talk to, though, you have to give something of yourself or otherwise it just feels to the other person as if they are being interrogated.
Listening to the answers they give is very important in order for them to feel valued and to want to continue speaking to you.
It’s a good idea to have a very brief introduction to yourself planned out in your head before you go somewhere where you might be called upon to speak to people that you do not know. Having that little piece of information planned out in your head and memorized will help you to feel more comfortable about the prospect of meeting new people and you will find you relax more, making small talk much easier.
Your introduction need not be long; in fact it shouldn’t be more than a couple of sentences. It is perfectly adequate to say ‘Hi, my name is…” then go on to simply state why you are at the social event; perhaps that might be something like ‘I’ve been friends with the hosts for a few years now’ or ‘I’m looking for a painting for my lounge room’. The person you are speaking to will probably reciprocate in the same way and you will have found your first piece of common ground because you will know why you are both there.
Again, listening to the answer is very important. That enables you to take cues from what they say to further the conversation. What you say does not need to be very smart or very funny; something which shows a little interest in the other person will work very well. What you are trying to do is establish a connection with the other person and once you have connected, the conversation should flow more freely.
Remember that you should not fire a long list of questions at the person to whom you are speaking. That will unnerve them and bore them. If from one of their answers you find some common ground, something which you have a story about or some positive comment to make, tell them that rather than asking another question. They will relax and open up more as the conversation becomes more two-sided and reciprocal and so will you.
You can start your small talk with a comment about where you both are. That gives you some common ground already. You can talk about the venue or the event; the food or the facilities. Make your comments positive if you can, as this put people in the best frame of mind in which to reply to you.
Having something interesting to contribute will help when it comes to small talk, so keep up with the news and current affairs, what’s on at the cinema etc. If you’re going to a specific event do a little bit of research before hand so that you will have some things to say. You don’t have to be a world authority; in fact, that can be off-putting.
You just need to have a few things in your memory bank to say that you’re less likely to go blank and silent. So, when it comes to how to do small talk with people, practice a two sentence introduction to yourself and have three or a couple of simple questions you could ask then look around you and listen to people for further inspiration.