If the idea of chatting with strangers makes your heart race and your palms sweat, you are far from alone. Not everyone was born with the “gift of gab” or the social confidence of a talk-show host. The reality is, small talk can be intimidating and anxiety-producing for introverts (or anyone for that matter). While most small talk is inconsequential, it can also be an essential component of the networking process.
You never know who you may meet at your next social event…maybe your new best friend or a future employer. Either way, brushing up on your “small talk skills” can help you feel a little less stressed about your social outing.
Here are ten simple strategies you can use to master small talk in any social environment:
- Be curious! If the thought of talking about yourself makes you want to hide in the broom closet, decide that you are going to learn as much as you can from and about the person in front of you instead. Ask questions and get to the bottom of this “new character” without being too pushy.
- 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 and will have the other person thinking you are quite the conversationalist!
- Question Tip: Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Starting your questions with “what” or “when” makes the question a little more open-ended!
- Be courteous with your attention. Nothing saps the energy from a conversation faster than one of the parties showing a noticeable lack of interest. Maintain eye contact and be a good listener. This one tip will skyrocket your success.
- Put your phone away. I can not believe this has to be said, but in a world where our phones have almost become an extension of us… please remember that it is rude to look at your phone while having a conversation. You can survive without it for a few minutes. And be sure the conversation is truly over before you even glance at it.
- Find someone who actually wants to talk. At any social gathering, some people are looking for a conversation partner. So look around and find someone that obviously wants to talk.
- 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.
- 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.
- Personalize your conversation by getting the person’s name and using 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.
- 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 with. 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.”
- Share a smile. You appear more inviting and less intimidating when you smile. You’ll feel more confident, too. There’s no reason to grin constantly, instead just share a simple smile.
While these tips will make “small talk” feel a little less daunting, the best way to master any new skill is to practice. It IS possible, even as an introvert, to master the art of small talk and expand your social possibilities. 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 will not take long before it comes naturally to you.
If you could use some additional support when it comes to expanding your network or navigating the job search process as an introvert, click here to schedule a complimentary call, and let’s see if we’d be a good fit!
Wanna know more about who Lisa is and her mission? Check out this post!