I am REALLY BAD at small talk. Like… insanely awful at times. My introverted self frequently tries to avoid finding myself in a position where small talk is required or expected in the first place.
But alas, avoiding small talk in today’s society is next to impossible. While Covid is still very much a threat, people are finding themselves back at social gatherings or events in which socializing is a must.
Luckily for people like you and I, small talk doesn’t have to be as awful as we think it is. Today, we’re going to work together to improve our small talk skillset and not have to worry about leaving the conversation feeling like a bag of bricks just hit us in the head.
With that said, here are my 5 tips to surviving small talk situations.
1 – Ask Questions
While I do spend a lot of my time on social media platforms educating people about mental health, I actually don’t like being in the spotlight, believe it or not, especially in conversational situations. So I just simply ask a lot of questions.
The more we can do to take the spotlight off of us and our lives, the less anxiety we’ll feel and the better we’ll feel. From there, use the answers to those questions to guide you to the next point of the conversation, using your curiosity to your advantage.
2 – Embellish Your Responses
Okay, before you freak out, hear me out.
So we obviously cannot just simply ask questions non-stop during the conversation. At some point, we’re going to have to answer some of their questions. Whatever you do, try to avoid one-word responses, as these tend to make the conversation have the awkward feel that we dread in the first place. In this instance, take a deep breath and embellish your response.
If they ask you, “How was your weekend?” Don’t respond with “Fine” or “It was okay.” A helpful response will be: “My weekend was pretty good! I went to this delicious Italian restaurant in my town. Do you like Italian food? I highly recommend it.”
You see how we reverted the conversation back to them? This might take practice, but trust me, it’s worth it.
3 – Talk About The Things Around You
This one is always a life saver. It’s a safe way to find a genuine topic to talk about. If there’s music playing, talk about the song or the artist. If you’re at a wedding, talk about the food or a story about the couple getting married. If you’re at the office water cooler, talk about something work-related, perhaps a project or a customer you had recently.
This may seem like a cop-out tactic, but it’s actually really useful when you use it to your advantage. Don’t wrack your brain for a topic! Just look at your surroundings.
4 – If There Is Silence… DO NOT PANIC!
The most awkward thing in a conversation is when there is even a smidgen of silence. Just thinking about it makes me shiver. It’s really important however to NOT panic in this situation.
Take a moment, understand the vibe of the situation, and either pivot to a new topic or exit the conversation.
Speaking of exiting the conversation…
5 – Know How To Leave the Conversation
This one will always be the most difficult one because ending a conversation can feel REALLY weird. But listen, it doesn’t have to be! Ending a conversation gracefully takes a little practice, but once you do it a couple times, you’ll get the hang of it.
When you notice that the conversation is starting to come to a close, end the conversation on a positive note. Smile at the person you’re talking to and end with something along the lines of:
- “Have a wonderful time with your XYZ plans!”
- “I just realized I haven’t said hello to XYZ yet! I’m gonna go say hi. Great speaking to you!”
- “Thanks for sharing that story about XYZ. It’s been great speaking with you. I’ll catch again later.”
- “I do have to go in a few minutes, but it was a pleasure speaking with you! Hopefully we speak again soon!”
- “I have to run, but tell XYZ that I said hi!”
- “It was nice speaking with you! I’ll let you get going now. I’ll catch you again soon.”
- “Do you know where the restroom is?” (This one is my favorite.)
- “I have a bunch of things to catch up on, but let’s chat again soon!
- “I have a phone call in about 10 minutes. I have to go. But it was great speaking with you!”
Use those as inspiration and make them your own! These are definitely my go-to conversation enders.
Take A Deep Breath – It’s Okay!
Small talk is really difficult. Trust me, I get it. While you may avoid it most of the time, sometimes you’ll find yourself in its grasp and you gotta be ready for it! Hopefully these 5 tips will help you feel a little bit more comfortable! Good luck out there!
Much love. Good Vibes.
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