How to get better at making small talk
-Published on 07th April 2021 by Oxford School of English-
I’m sure we all remember the instances at social gatherings when we were asked inconsequential questions about our exam results, or our jobs, or even what we aspired for later on in life. Pointless as they may seem from those with no real interest in our lives, these questions are part of a form of communication called small talk, which is actually a great way for people to connect with each other.
A large number of people have an inherent dislike towards making smalltalk because it feels forced and fake. While small talk can sometimes - well, often - feel boring (or worse, exasperating), this simple form of verbal interaction is often seen to result in some of the best friendships, the most enriching business relationships or even just a new person talking to whom becomes an enjoyable experience with the passage of time.
Small talk typically happens between people who don’t know each other at all, or people who barely know each other. Sometimes people make small talk to break an awkward or uncomfortable silence, or just to be friendly, because after all, human beings are social creatures who crave connections with other human beings.
Even though it may feel like a waste of time, small talk is a sign of politeness and courtesy, and it does indeed offer a number of benefits. For starters, by mastering the art of talking about mundane topics or just being an audience when someone has something (which to you may sound inconsequential or irrelevant) to say, it makes you a good listener and in turn makes you liked!
On many occasions, we have no choice but to engage in these conversations. But, as is natural to happen, sometimes conversations just do not flow at all. In this blog, we explore some of the time tested, well proven tips that can help you effortlessly carry on a conversation.
One of the easiest ways to make meaningful small talk is to ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. These indicate curiosity and interest in what the other person has to say. Don’t worry too much about sounding inquisitive or nosy, as long as you are friendly and cordial. People generally appreciate it when others take an interest in their lives and what they do.
Secondly, finding common topics of interest is a great way to make conversation without it feeling like a drag. Do you and the other person love watching football? Talk about your favourite players!
Counterintuitive as it may sound, asking for advice on a topic that the other person is more knowledgeable on is a really good way to form a connection. Not just that, you never know what you may learn from them in the process!
Small talk is an activity that really makes you be in the moment. Making small talk helps to improve your attention span and make the most of the present moment. Another effective way to form meaningful connections is by using phrases like “tell me more”, which encourage the other person to elaborate.
Since conversations are a two-way road, share something personal about yourself. This makes the other person feel good about talking to you. It may not be much, but it does reveal a bit about who you are as a person!
And finally, the most important point to remember when making small talk is to avoid using your phone. In our digitally connected world, it is sometimes difficult to do, but conversations that are held face to face without distractions feel a lot more genuine and natural.
With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to becoming a great conversationalist!