Top 10 Ways to Master the Art of Small Talk

Not everyone was born with the gift of gab or the social confidence of a talk-show host. For the introverted or poorly skilled, small talk can be intimidating and anxiety producing. Most small talk is inconsequential, but an important part of events where people gather.

You just might meet your new best friend, love of your life, or future employer at your next event.

At the very least, you can learn to look forward to social events.

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Use these strategies to master small talk in any social environment:

  1. Be curious. This is an effective way to take your thoughts off yourself. Decide that you’re going to learn as much as you can from, and about, the person in front of you. Ask questions and get to the bottom of this character without being too pushy.
  2. Use the power of questions. The great thing about asking questions is that it takes the focus off you. A good question can keep the other person talking for a few minutes.
    • A few decent questions on your part will also leave the other person thinking you’re a brilliant conversationalist. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
  3. Be courteous with your attention. Nothing saps the energy from a conversation faster than one of the parties showing an obvious lack of interest. Maintain eye contact and be a good listener. This one tip will skyrocket your success.
  4. Put your phone away. It’s rude to look at your phone while having a conversation. You can survive without it for a few minutes.
  5. Find someone that wants to talk. At any social gathering there are people that are looking for a conversation partner. Look around and find someone that obviously wants to talk.
  6. Steer the conversation to something interesting. Work, the weather, and the price of milk might be fine for a few minutes, but everyone gets bored with this type of talk. Most people love to be part of an interesting conversation.
  7. Avoid controversial topics. Religion and politics are questionable topics. Everyone has their own opinions, and those opinions rarely change. 
    • Overly personal issues are another subject to avoid. You might be thrilled that you finally had that 23-year-old cyst lanced on your back, but keep that conversation for your best friend or mom.
    • Find something to talk about that’s unlikely to lead to aggravation. Something interesting in the immediate vicinity can be a good conversation starter.
  8. Get the person’s name, remember it, and use it. You’re likely to exchange names very early in the conversation. Use their name in conversation and memorize it. It would be nice to use it if you happen to bump into them again.
  9. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses. Some conversations just don’t work out for a variety of reasons. Avoid taking it personally and move on to someone new. See how many new people you can speak to.
    • You can make your escape by saying something as simple as, “I need to find something to drink. I feel dehydrated. It was nice to speak with you.”
  10. Smile. You appear more inviting and less intimidating when you smile. You’ll feel more confident, too. There’s no reason to grin constantly, but smile easily.

The best way to master any new skill is practice. Use this information and work on your small talk skills. Just remember that not everyone will be thrilled to talk to you. That’s their issue, not yours. Keep going until you find a willing conversation partner. It won’t take long.

Master the art of small talk and expand your social possibilities.

-Cynthia Lee, MCLC

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Cynthia Lee

Master Certified Life Coach | Certified Confidence Coach | Mother | Daughter | Sister | Friend | Speaker | Podcast Host | Superwoman

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