How to Get Good at Small Talk, and Even Enjoy It

How to Get Good at Small Talk, and Even Enjoy It

“Small talk” is a misnomer for such an important part of communication. (00:00:00)

  • Small talk is valuable for connecting, bonding, learning, and growing.
  • Approaching small talk as a collaborative effort, like hacky sack, rather than a test or tennis match, can make it enjoyable.

Establish appropriate goals. (00:01:07)

  • Aim to be interested in the conversation rather than trying to appear interesting.
  • Focusing on being present in the discussion can alleviate anxiety about being judged.

Give yourself permission to pause. (00:01:52)

  • Speed is not as important as providing an appropriate response.
  • Pausing and paraphrasing can help ensure you've understood the other person and provide time to compose thoughts.

What if you feel like you have nothing smart to say? (00:03:35)

  • Asking questions like "Tell me more" gives you time to think and encourages the other person to continue sharing.

What if I make a mistake or say something dumb? (00:04:24)

  • Mistakes are a natural part of spontaneous communication, which is more about connection than perfection.
  • Viewing mistakes as "missed takes" provides an opportunity to try saying things in a different way.

What if my problem is that I have too much to say? (00:05:09)

  • Being concise is usually preferable in communication.
  • Rather than sharing a full thought process, focus on directly answering or addressing the topic at hand.

What tools can I use if none of this is natural to me? (00:06:04)

  • Leverage structure in speech, such as the "What? So what? Now what?" technique for clarity and conciseness.
  • Practicing structured communication in daily situations can make it feel more natural.

How do I get the conversation started? (00:07:53)

  • Trite phrases often used to initiate small talk do not lead to meaningful conversations.
  • Initiating with context-specific observations or questions can pique curiosity and lead to a more engaging interaction.

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