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How to Quickly Improve Your Ability to Make Small Talk

How to Quickly Improve Your Ability to Make Small Talk

Small talk can be difficult. If you’re introverted, shy, or you feel uncomfortable in a room full of strangers at a party or conference it can quickly become a stressful situation. Sometimes you will stand in silence and try to avoid eye contact just so that you don’t have to make conversation.

Luckily for you, there’s a technique to help guide you through these awkward moments and help you to build an initial conversation so that you can try to establish relationships for the future.

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The FORM small talk trick

F.O.R.M stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money. The idea is that these 4 topics can open up a conversation easily and help you to discover more about the person with whom you are talking. That way you can delve into topics of conversation that involve shared interest topics. Generally speaking, people like to talk about their life. They feel more important when you are asking questions about them — and it helps to keep the conversation flow. This, in turn, makes them feel more at ease and relaxed.

Let’s break down the F.O.R.M. acronym, shall we?

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  • F-amily: Do you have kids? Where is your family from? How long have you lived around here? Then you can elaborate and tell them about yours.
  • O-ccupation: What do you do for a living?  What is that like?  Have you always been a scuba diving parachutist? You can compare notes about the similarities and differences in your jobs.
  • R-ecreation: What do you do for fun?  How long have you been involved in birdwatching? Ask them what they do outside of work for fun. Sports, hobbies, favourite website, TV shows, movies…find out what you have in common.
  • M-oney:  What happened with the price of gas? How do you think the new liquor store laws will shake out? Anything that is current news and falls into neutral territory is fair game.

The beauty of F.O.R.M. is that it can be adapted to your needs because you can change what it stands for. Alternatives could be “motivation” instead of “money”; the discussion can then shift away from finance. “Media” is another alternative — you can talk about what’s happening in the media world.

In fact, you could change any of the 4 topic areas. O could be for Olympics (especially if an Olympic Games will be happening soon), or R could be reading, where you could talk about what you’ve read recently.

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You should be able to have a great initial conversation around these 4 questions — and, of course, these same questions can be revisited again in the future to form the basis of future conversations.

(Update: Now that you can start a conversation try these tips to keep the conversation going)

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Featured photo credit: Two friends enjoying a chat and a hot drink together via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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