Small talk makes many people nervous. Especially those of us who are introverts or INFPs (like I am).
The good news is, your ability to make small talk can be refined over time. Going from inept to adept is just about keeping a few simple ideas in mind.
Small talk is about connection, not content.
You might be someone who enjoys having deep conversations about topics that really fascinate you with one or two other people. Keep making the time and space to do this. But when you are out and about in the world, it will probably be more appropriate to make small talk.
Making small talk is just about connecting with the people around you. All different types of people. Maybe people who really don’t care to have in depth conversations.
Small talk can even be fun. You can connect with someone in a short period of time by simply communicating with them. About what, it doesn’t matter!
Talk about the most obvious things.
This is one of the most important things to remember in your small talk practice. The most obvious topics make the best small talk.
You are looking for things that will appeal to the most people. So things like the weather, traffic conditions, what so and so wore on XYZ awards show are all great topics for small talk. Basically, if it pops into your mind quickly, it’s probably a great topic for small talk.
When all else fails, ask questions.
If you are in a situation that calls for small talk, and you find yourself starting to sweat with anxiety, ask a question. Again, make it something obvious: “How long have you been working here?” “How do you know so and so?” “Where are you from?” These things sound cliche, and they are, which makes them perfect for small talk.
The great thing about asking questions is that the other person gets to talk, and you get to listen, which I’m betting you probably prefer. Also, it doesn’t hurt that people love being asked about themselves.