When meeting new people, do you know how to make small talk? Do you feel that’s the barrier keeping you from making friends and building a social life? Making small talk is in fact a great skill to have; it gives you access to pretty much anyone that you come across in a social setting.
In this article, I want to share some key pointers on how to make small talk and have great conversations.
What makes small talk an easy skill to learn is the fact that you can practice pretty much anywhere. You can practice with bartenders, waitresses, cab drivers, neighbors, etc. You can always be ready to talk a little longer with a random stranger, and take just small attempts at improving your small talk muscle.
As a rule of thumb, try to hold conversations for 5% longer than usual.
Fortunately, you can only get better at it, and it stays with you for a very long time. You automatically start to adapt what you talk about and how you do it according to the social situations you’re in.
Making small talk is about being random and going with the flow. This means that it’s not a structured way to communicate.
The easiest way to start learning small talk is to realize that all topics of conversation are related. Every subject is related to every other subject, directly or indirectly. There is always a link between anything and everything else.
For example, if someone talks about what they saw on TV today, you can share what you saw recently on TV as well. If they’re talking about the news, you can talk about your favorite kind of news, even if it’s not directly related to what they just mentioned.
As a rule of thumb, talk about what the last thought reminds you of. Don’t censor yourself too much…
Now that you know that all topics are linked, you can start practicing with people wherever you go.
A major block that won’t let you do that is a common tendency to avoid speaking your mind freely. See, if you only say things that are interesting, fun, original, funny, or impressive… you’ll run out of them very soon.
Instead of censoring yourself and ending up with nothing to say, give yourself more freedom to experiment with subjects you’re not used to addressing. You don’t have to be Miss or Mister amazing; all you have to do is get into a talkative mood.
Now, should you talk about anything that pops in your mind? Well, if you have trouble making small talk, then I bet you’re very far away from the other extreme. I bet there are a lot of things around you, and ideas you have inside that you’re not allowing yourself to talk about.
I recommend that you break free from that excessive self-censorship and just talk.
A great mindset I’ll leave you with here is the one where you understand the value of small talk and why you should learn it. The purpose of keeping conversations going is to build rapport, find things in common, and make people feel comfortable.
While it looks like some pointless chatter, small talk has real magic behind it. The value is in making people comfortable with you; it makes them open up to more meaningful conversations. If there is no small talk and no comfort, they keep their distance.
If you want to achieve that faster, look for subtle commonalities, and focus on the things that you agree on with the person. This habit of finding common ground with someone you meet gives you the basis on which you can build great friendships.
Remember, the basis of friendship is commonalities. Make sure you look for them.
Best of luck.
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