Argh! I hear you cry – either in despair or in disgust! I hear you and I do sympathise with both sentiments. However, there are those who find Small Talk a Summer breeze, how do they do it? Hopefully, this article will give you a few pointers to get you started. Remember, every conversation is an adventure – you never know where it’s going to lead…
Recently, I was looking at a Reader’s Digest book entitled How to Write and Speak Better and, indeed, it had a substantial section on the Art of Conversation. Number one on the list was, yes you’ve guessed it, Small Talk. First of all, let us pause a little and ask ourselves: what exactly is Small Talk? And then let’s investigate further: how do we get started with it?
According to the Readers Digest book Small Talk is defined as ‘the stage in a conversation when you and the other person seek common ground and establish a relationship’. This is the first step which can lead to fascinating discussions about a whole set of different matters, sometimes it may even lead to major projects. I speak from experience here. Recently, I have been attending many different events and since I was new to these atmospheres I had to be bold and break the ice myself, it was daunting at first I admit but then after a while it became quite easy and I found that people in general are willing to make you feel welcome.
The idea that just a bit of Small Talk can lead to a potentially powerful project is exciting! But how do we start?
‘To launch into small talk you need an opening gambit… the more mundane they are, the more likely the other person is to feel confident and able to respond’. Here are a few examples to try out:
Comments and questions about…
– the surroundings / the event:
“This is a beautiful place.”
“Is this your first time at this event?”
– How you / the other person arrived:
“Have you travelled far?”
– On the people who are central to the event:
“How do you know (so and so)?”
– Current news stories / recent films, books, TV programmes:
“Have you seen the new James Bond film?”
“Have you read 50 Shades of Grey, what do you think?”
“I’ve heard that this one is a favourite with the Royals”
Best of all: CURIOSITY. Be interested in the other person – ask questions but also be sensitive and listen to what they have to say and pick up on details so that they know that you value what they say.
Gentlemen: this is particularly important – I would say vital – when you are conversing with a lady.
So, start your adventure and be bold – Small Talk and you never know, you may change the world at the end of it!