Small Talk Is Important, Here’s How To Improve The Art Of It
Small talk. Ah, some might think it’s daunting, while some just have a gift for it. I, for one, am not a fan of small talk simply because I am not great at it. What more making small talk in a social setting, right? Talk about making my anxiety spike! But with all that being said, there’s no denying that small talk is important. Whether we like it or not, it is a significant part of creating a social connection. Here are some reasons why small talk is important and why we should stop shying away from it.
1. Small talk is an act of politeness and creates bonds
Having small talk is an act of politeness. Engaging in small talk requires you to take time to listen to and acknowledge the other person’s presence. It is also a non-threatening way of establishing a connection and the quickest way to create a bond with people who may have little in common with you! Though the bond created may not be grand, it does help in creating greater ventures, which leads us to point number two…
2. Small talk opens doors to various possibilities
One of the beauties of small talk is you will never know where it might lead you. Though it might seem purposeless at first, a speck of common interest may lead to a host of outcomes that will help you solidify the relationship. This creates even more opportunities —be it in life or work! Small talk is a foundation for authentic conversations which will help create deeper relationships in the future. Without small talk, you will never be able to create something more meaningful.
3. Small talk is a great way to showcase your personality
Small talks are a chance for you to showcase your personality. Instead of trying to impress the person you are talking to, show off your personality! The more genuine you are in showing your personality, the easier it will be to create trust and respect. Not to mention, it will also make you more approachable and easier to relate to. This way, people will feel less threatened by you, thus making it easier for them to open up and let the conversation flow.
4. Small talk opens your eyes and mind
The easiest way to learn something new is by listening to other people’s stories. So, give yourself a chance to learn more about life! Life is too short and we simply cannot do everything by ourselves—as much as we want to. You would be surprised by what you can learn from someone else, no matter how similar or different you are from each other. In fact, celebrate your differences as this means you will be able to learn something new in just one short conversation!
Now that we have looked at why small talk is important, let’s look at the ways of perfecting the act of having small talk:
1. Make the other person feel comfortable
The first rule of any conversation is to compliment the other party. Compliments and praises can help make them feel more at ease. As superficial as this might sound, complimenting something on the surface level is your best bet in this matter. By scratching the surface, you will eventually be able to find something more meaningful to compliment on. So, start simple with compliments like, “I like your shoes” or “Cool haircut!”. Though these phrases might sound simple, it may help brighten that person’s day.
2. Let the other person take the lead
At the beginning of the conversation, it is more than likely that the person you are talking to would be a bit apprehensive to take the lead. When this happens, it is up to you to help that person to open up. For starters, you can try asking these two questions:
Have you been to an event like this before?
This question is universal and it is a great conversation starter as it can be modified according to your circumstance and where the occasion is taking place.
What have you been up to lately?
This question is such a classic, but it works well because 1) It’s a great way to know the other person’s interest as it has a personal touch to it, and 2) It’s a question that can help conversation flow easily as the recipient will be talking about themselves.
However, it is also important to remember that although you are taking the lead by asking questions, don’t forget to give the person a chance to ask you questions as well so the conversation does not seem one-sided!
3. Stick to small topics
It is okay to stick to small, clichéd topics such as food, sports or traffic as nobody likes to be asked existential questions in the middle of a party. Food has been dubbed as one of the best small topics for conversations as written in this article by All Ears English. In most events, food will always be present and you can use whatever dish is in front of you to start a conversation. For other examples, this article by Science of People has some great conversation starters to help you practice.
4. Stay away from your phone
If it is not obvious enough, consider this a reminder: Keep. Your. Phone. Away. As tempting it might be, try your best to refrain from looking at your phone. Using your phone in the middle of a conversation will not only make you seem like you are not interested, but it may also come across as rude. So, keep the little gadget away and be present!
5. Know when to leave the conversation
Yes, knowing when to leave the conversation is also part of having a successful conversation. At times, you might find yourself with someone who is not able to converse well or in a conversation that is just not going as you planned. This is completely fine. Gracefully exit the conversation by excusing yourself to the bathroom. If you find it awkward to just excuse yourself, couple it with a compliment so the other person won’t feel like you are leaving them hanging! For example, you can say, “It was really lovely to meet you! But if you can excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom.” It’s sweet and straight to the point.
Small talk can be used as an opportunity to get to know people. Deep, insightful conversations can’t happen without something to be based on, anyway! So, don’t shy away from small talk and give it more credit! You may never know where a conversation that starts with “I like cats” may lead you.