Consider this scenario. You’re at a work event where you know next to no one, but everyone else seems to know other people and are having long conversations with them. You don’t know what to do so you just stand quietly in the corner, sipping your drink and checking the time, waiting for the appropriate amount of time to pass before you can excuse yourself. Or, you’re at a wedding where a similar situation occurs and you just can’t wait to leave. Sure, you’ve mingled with the host or a colleague to two, but you don’t know them very well so the conversation gets awkward quickly.
According to a recent New York Mag story, talking to strangers is kind of like working out – unpleasant at first, but awesome in the long run. In fact, in a social experiment conducted by the American Psychological Association, when Chicago commuters were asked to talk to people on the train, they had happier commutes than they’d predicted. All this shows the importance of small talk in forming relationships. It might seem intimidating but the art of small talk is really very simple. Here’s how you can master it.
First Off, You Don’t Need To Get Very Serious
“You need not talk about very serious subjects that might make the other person uncomfortable. Simple remarks about how you or the other person is enjoying the space, food, music or the evening can be a good ice breaker. Beginning a conversation by asking questions about their hobbies and interests is inviting, too. It’s important to remember here, though, that you should not get into a monologue or long story-telling, as well as avoid unconscious complaining or challenging the new person,” says Veechi Shahi, a life coach.
The most important thing to remember here is that the best small talk has no hidden agenda or plans – it comes from a space of enjoying the company of new people and learning to share the spirit of human connections.
– Veechi Shahi, Life Coach
All Big, Meaningful Relationships Begin With Small Talk
“A genuine smile and open-ended questions go a long way,” says Veechi. If you’re an introvert and find making conversation hard, prepare for it by creating a small talk Top-10 list. The best way to do this is by identifying about five topics you like to talk about and having enough knowledge to hold a conversation on. The other five topics should be on things you don’t know much about but have a genuine interest in learning about. Bring these up as conversation starters and let it flow from there.
Also, Remember That Listening Is An Important Element
The more attentively you listen, the more you understand the other person’s interests, and you can use that to strike up a conversation. While conversing, even if the topic is not to your interest, never let the other person know that. Showing interest in what the other person is saying goes a long way in building conversations.
Lastly, Don’t Be Afraid Of Lulls In The Conversation
Be comfortable and confident. While you might feel awkward when there’s a silence, understand that it’s a normal outcome of any conversation and is better than being seen as a babbling idiot. During this time, give the other person the option to walk away if they wish to, but if they’re keen to continue the conversation then start on a new topic. Ultimately, it’s all a matter of practice and comfort.
Like this article? Also read: How To Make Your Commute More Enjoyable
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