Not everyone is a natural-born extrovert with endless charisma. That means that social interactions can be challenging for some of us.
Many men are filled with dread at the thought of striking up a conversation with random strangers or worse, a beautiful woman.
However, learning how to start and hold a conversation is a critical skill if you want to get ahead in work, business, life, and of course, love.
In this article, we share tips on how to master the art of small talk, including small talk topics that work for any situation. Read on to learn more!
Top 10 Small Talk Tips
Everybody needs some pointers on how to start small talk and keep the conversation rolling.
Here are 10 of our “how to small talk” tips to get you started on your way to forming meaningful connections.
1. Friendly body language
A person’s body language say a lot about them. Unfortunately, some people are unaware of the messages their body is sending.
They might, for example, subconsciously display a closed-off and reserved aura at social events without realizing it.
Here’s how you can fix that:
- Open up your body
- Avoid crossing your arms or legs
- Maintain a strong posture to show confidence
- Direct your body to face the person you’re interacting with
Doing this shows the other person that they have your attention and that you’re interested in having a conversation with them.
2. Give a compliment
If you notice something about the other person that you like, don’t be afraid to give them a compliment. For example, you could compliment somebody on their shirt or shoes.
Giving compliments isn’t just a good ice breaker, it can also make the other person’s day.
3. Ask open-ended questions
Nothing sucks more than that awkward silence mid-conversation. If this tends to happen to you a lot, it’s probably because you’re not asking enough open-ended questions.
Closed-ended conversations (also known as yes or no questions) are quite definite and don’t leave room to further the conversation. Open-ended questions start with ”why,” ”how,” and “what if,” etc.
Essentially, ask questions that have to be answered with more than one word and allow for more conversation.
4. Practice active listening
Have you ever been engaged in a conversation with someone and all of a sudden you notice their attention start to wander? Well, no one likes it when this happens to them.
When speaking to someone, try to give the other person your full attention by practicing active listening.
Head nodding (but not excessively), making eye contact, and the occasional murmur of agreement can go a long way in making the other person know you’re paying attention. Plus, it’s the polite thing to do.
5. Don’t respond with one word answers
You’ve gotten the other person’s attention, you’ve been able to get two or three sentences out of them, and now it’s your turn to shine.
In the same way you want to keep the other person talking, you should also be able to carry the conversation when the spotlight is turned on you.
For example, if someone asks you how you’re enjoying the party don’t say “I’m enjoying it just fine”. Rather, tell them why you’re enjoying the party – is it the good music, the great food, the decorations?
Tell them and maybe you two might find some common ground.
6. Know when to speak and when to listen
Sometimes you might get so caught up in a topic that you don’t give the other person time to talk. In the same way, you can also be absorbed in the other person’s discussion and may miss your cue to contribute as well.
You need to learn how to strike the perfect balance between talking and listening. Too much or too little of either is a sure way to end the conversation.
A good rule of thumb is not to go on for more than 40 seconds at a time both with listening and talking.
7. Keep up with current events
Make sure you keep aware of current events in the world. A basic knowledge of what’s going on around you will make for an interesting conversation.
What’s the most popular show on Netflix? Who looked best on the red carpet? What team is playing in the finals? Having an opinion on these topics will help you seem like a well-rounded individual.
8. Avoid these topics
In a casual setting with someone you barely know you shouldn’t be discussing heavy topics or controversial issues.
The most controversial topic you two should be having is whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza! Small talk should be lightweight and easy to carry.
Discussions such as political affiliation, religious beliefs, health issues, and personal gossip are taboo during small talk. Remember, you’re trying to get to know the other person so easy breezy does it.
9. Put away your phone
Nothing kills a conversation faster than another person being on their phone. This shows a lack of interest and is completely off-putting.
Instead, put your phone on vibrate and leave it in your pocket. Be present in the conversation you’re having with the other person.
If you happen to be expecting an important email or phone call, then give the other person a heads up so that they’ll know to expect an interruption.
The only time you should have your phone out is when you’re about to exchange contact information with the other person.
10. Come armed with a list of topics
A strong and diverse list of safe topics is your ammunition to make sure the conversation doesn’t falter at any point.
These topics should cover various interests such as music, movies, hobbies, and current events.
Top 10 Small Talk Topics
Speaking of topics for small talk, here are ten small talk examples that you can use in piquing the other person’s interest:
1. Venue and location
- Mention something interesting about the venue.
- You can also share a previous experience (if any) of being at that particular location.
2. Books, movies, and TV shows
- Ask whether they’ve seen the most popular show on Netflix.
- Ask what their current favorite movie is.
3. Food, restaurants, and cooking
- Ask if they enjoy cooking as a hobby.
- What is their favorite food or restaurant?
- Ask if their family is from around here.
- Do they have children?
5. Travel and exploring
- Do they travel a lot?
- Where was the last place they visited?
6. Work and career
- What do they do for a living and what does that entail?
- How long have they been at your current workplace?
7. Hobbies and fun
- What do they do for fun?
- When was the last time they got to do what they enjoy?
8. Sports and activities
- What’s their favorite sport?
- What sports team do they support?
9. News and current events
- Have they listened to Drake’s new album?
- Did they hear about this new venue that just opened?
10. Weather (yes, the weather)
- Do they enjoy winter/fall/summer/?
- Talk about how the weather affects you.
Not knowing how to small talk is nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, there are many peoplewho find it difficult to initiate a conversation.
Just like every other skill, practice makes perfect. And before you know it, you’ll be a regular ol’ James Bond around people.
The first step is simply to approach people – and to do that, you need confidence. Here at JESSE JIMZ, we’re all about helping men and look and feel their best.
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