In theory, small talk should be simple. This is because by definition, small talk involves easy conversation about common, non-controversial topics with strangers or acquaintances. Despite the idea of small talk being effortless, many people struggle initiating and/or maintaining small talk. Unfortunately for those who struggle with it, small talk is an essential part of everyday life – from the workplace to the local coffee shop. However, small talk doesn’t have to be a scary or daunting thing. With these small talk tips, you can have the confidence to start a conversation with anyone – and keep it going.
Don’t Be Afraid to Initiate Conversation
In an awkwardly quiet elevator with a coworker you don’t know that well? Unsure of what to say or if you should even say anything? Wish this would all be over ASAP? Chances are, your fellow elevator rider is having the same thoughts. Instead of waiting it out in silence, strike up a conversation with your colleague. Bring up something simple that they can relate to, like the upcoming company meeting or the potential blizzard hitting your town this week. As soon as you break the ice, the awkwardness of the situation will go away and you will both feel more at ease. In fact, you most likely will have an enjoyable conversation and be glad you did so.
Ask Questions About the Other Person
A big reason that people find small talk so dreadful is that they don’t know what to say. By asking the other person questions about themselves, it provides them with an opportunity to speak about something they know a lot about. This makes conversation easier for both parties. The recipient of the questions feels important and listened to, while the initiator of the questions learns more about their colleague. This also allows the asker to respond with their own answers to said questions, which can lead to an interesting and easy conversation. Not sure what to ask? Start with unique, engaging topics such as upcoming vacations or what their dream concert would be.
Comment on Current Events
One of the most useful small talk tips is to bring up popular currents events. This is because it is almost guaranteed that the other person is aware of said current event and likely has an opinion or comment about it. You can even select which event to bring up based on the person you are conversing with. Know your coworker is a huge sports fan? Comment on last night’s playoff game. Does your hair stylist love entertainment? Ask her what her Oscar winner predictions are. If you’re unsure of the other person’s interests, bring up something everyone knows about such as the weather or upcoming holidays.
Many people find small talk daunting. However, by following these small talk tips, you will become comfortable participating in small talk and no longer be afraid of it.