Learning how to make small talk is something many people keep putting off or avoid doing all together.
The fear of striking up what is perceived to be meaningless conversation with strangers can fill you with dread.
I've got to admit, I used to really hate making small talk. It's still not my favorite thing to do, but I've come to realize that it is a necessary and valuable thing to do.
When you approach it with a good attitude an an open mind it becomes a lot easier than when you close yourself off with negativity. You have to learn to embrace small talk.
Why Making Small Talk Is A Skill You Need
What most people who hate small talk forget is that every one of the relationships they have outside of their family began with small talk.
Best buds from school, team mates or co-workers all first engaged with you through small talk. The deeper relationship began from there.
While you may think that small talk is shallow it is a natural filtering process when meeting new people. We can't spill our heart and soul to every stranger we meet. You need to go through the process of making small talk in order to create the rapport which is required to engage with someone on a deeper level.
As a young child these initial encounters were much easier but as you grew older and began to hide behind a mask of self consciousness and insecurities it became scary and uncomfortable to engage with new people.
But just because it is uncomfortable doesn't mean you should shy away from it. Anytime you start something new, for example a new job, you will engage in small talk. It will cause a few nerves until things settle and you get to know people.
On one hand that is different from the small talk you may have to make with people you will never see again, but you never know who you will meet and some casual small talk might be the door that opens to a new friendship, relationship or business contact. This is why it is important to be open to small talk as you have to go through this process in order to make social connections.
People say they hate small talk when actually they mean they are not good at small talk and are unwilling to learn. It is a social skill and like all social skills it is learned. All it takes is a bit of willingness.
How To Make Small Talk
It's easy to stand in the corner, looking awkward and then complain that no one wants to talk to you and that you hate small talk.
The reality is that everybody is nervous, shy and insecure at times. If nobody took the initiative to spark up conversation then it would never happen at all.
If you are feeling shy and nervous the best thing you can do is scan the room for someone who is looking just as shy and nervous as you, if not more. Then take the initiative to go and strike up a conversation with them.
Put yourself in their shoes. If you are standing awkwardly alone then you would want someone to initiate with you. So if you become the initiator you are doing them a favor by putting them at ease, and doing yourself a favor at the same time. They will be grateful that you came up to them.
Once you are actually talking to someone, the best thing you can do is ask open ended questions. Most people quite like to talk about themselves if they have a captive audience. By asking open ended questions you prompt others to talk and it takes the focus away from you.
How To Make Small Talk On A Date
Most advice regarding how to make small talk on a date will try to get you to move beyond small talk quickly in order to develop a deeper conversation and get to know each other, with the end goal of determining whether you want to take it further.
However I think the opposite is true. Embrace the small talk and talk for small talk's sake.
Why? Well ultimately you are on a date to get to know someone and see if they are a match. You want to know whether it is worth the time and energy to invest further. The problem with this is you start putting pressure on yourself and pressure on the situation. Your date will pick up on this energy and it will be off putting.
Be comfortable starting your conversation on the polite surface level. It will naturally flow where it needs to if the connection between you is good. You do not need to expect or force it to take a certain direction.