Meeting New People | Topics to Raise or Not to Raise During Small Talk | Interacting During Small Talk and Conversations | Preparation for Small Talk | Improving your Small Talk and Dealing with Small Talk Failures
The world is full of people. And most of them are much like us, in their own way. Knowing how to be comfortable with other people through being able to engage in small talk is part of making the most of our lives. It opens up opportunities to making new friends and brings us closer to people we already know. It also helps us pass certain times of our lives more pleasantly and memorably than might otherwise have been the case.
And small talk is not just about talking with people we don’t know. It is about being able to be with and talk comfortably with people we already know, through having a ready supply of conversation pieces to maintain good and comfortable relations with people, even family and close friends.
Everyone you meet is interesting and worth talking to.
You’ll have something in common with almost anyone. You just have to find it.
Don’t tell people they are wrong. By all means say you don’t agree, but don’t tell them they are wrong.
Make the effort to remember people’s names.
The more you practice small talk the better at it you will get.
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Reminder on taking tests: It’s not about trying to prove you already know it, it’s about learning.
Which of the following are generally true statements:
a. Other people are not like we are. They just want to be left alone.
b. There is always something we would find interesting about another person if we can find it.
c. People are for the most part just like we are and will be happy to talk to strangers so long as they make them feel at ease.
d. Most people are boring and there’s no point in talking to them or getting to know them any better.
b and c are generally the case. Not always. Sometimes we will come across people who just want to be left alone. However, albeit depending on circumstances people are quite willing to engage in small talk pleasantries, and everyone has something interesting about them.
If you try to start a conversation or small talk with someone, and you don’t get any response, what is the most likely long term outcome:
a. The other person is going to remember you for life and at some time in the future is going to make you deeply regret having tried to talk to them.
b. The other person is going to tell everyone they meet that you tried to talk to them.
c. The other person will have barely noticed your attempt to talk to them, and it won’t have made any lasting impact on them at all.
c. Do I really need to say any more.
List some general guidance if you are be effective in listening to someone
a. Maintain good eye contact
b. Don’t finish off other people’s sentences for them.
c. Don’t be talking internally to yourself whilst the other person is talking.
d. Don’t be glancing around the room while they are talking to you.
e. Give some visual or auditory feedback, the occasional nod of the head or uh-huh.
f. Do not fold your arms in front of you whilst they are talking.
You can have another go by deleting your answer, press ‘Hide Answer’, and go again. I would encourage you to do so if you feel you could do better.
You are going to an event on your own, and there will be some people you know and a lot you don’t. What preparation work can you do to help you be effective in engaging in small talk and conversations:
a. If you can familiarize yourself with the names of the people who will be there, particularly those you have only a passing acquaintance with.
b. Remind yourself about anything you know about those who will be attending. If you have close friends who know someone who will be attending better than you do, have a quick word with them about the other person.
c. Look up some topical information that you might use in casual conversation, particular sporting events recently passed or coming up, films that are on, some interesting news stories.
List out some general things you can do to improve your small talk skills:
a. Read up lots of tips or self-books.
b. Just practice whenever you can, for example when in a queue.
c. Observe others who you consider to be good at small talk, and just look to see how they do it.
d. Keep a private notebook with information about people that you can use to make it easier to talk to them in the future, thus you can enquire after family or pets or progress on particular hobbies.
e. Keep a notebook to write down conversation pieces. Unusual facts or news events. Funny stories. Quotes that appeal to you. Seek out a new one or two every week so you have something topical. Regularly review your notebook so the items are fresh in your mind.
Is it ok to pay a stranger a complement?
Yes, albeit ensure you are reasonably tactful in doing so.
List some of the things that you would be happy talking to a stranger about.
Of course I don’t magically know what you might have responded with. However if you are serious about improving your small talk, which you should be, you should be ready to talk a bit about yourself, and that includes being ready to let the other person prompt you about something they might find interesting. So think about what topics you’d be happy to let someone prompt you to talk about. It might be hobbies; any special skills you have; any awards or particular successes you’ve had; any unusual experiences; any areas of self-learning you have or are engaging in. Think about what makes you unique, or what you might want to be remembered about.
You are trying to engage in small talk with someone you’ve found yourself in close proximity to, but you’re not getting much response. What might be some of the reasons other than that they may just not be interested in talking to you.
There could be any number of reasons of which the following are a few:
i. They might not be able to hear you clearly. Older people and some others don’t have good hearing and if you are speaking softly they may not be confident in what you are saying.
ii. They might not understand your accent, or may be foreign with a poor grasp of your language.
iii. You might be being pushy or your body language is aggressive, without realising it, and you are making them feel very uncomfortable.
iv. Maybe you’ve got bad breath or body odour.
v. Maybe your small talk is closed rather than open, not providing them with any hooks.
vi. Maybe they lack small talk skills and don’t know how to respond.