How to make small talk interesting


How do you make small talk? How do you fill those awkward moments of silence when you meet someone? What do you say to them? How do you begin a conversation? This piece shows you how to make small talk.

Small talk, is the exchange of socially accepted pleasantries. Not everyone is comfortable having these tête-à-têtes; for some these dialogues are downright dull, exhausting and exasperating. It is painful to have to endure this, in the name of social graces.

Except that there are some who can effortlessly make engaging conversations.



Small talk, for the most part, is a useless conversation. You are not really interested, yet you end up asking the other person how their weekend was. You do not really want to know about how they remained slumped in bed, doing nothing or the awesome weekend getaway they had.

Nevertheless, we find this curious urge to fill the uneasy silence, with mundane chitchat that results in uninteresting jabber, though it does not have to be that way. You can learn to be a charming conversationalist, and turn the driest and most tedious happenings into fascinating stories.

Here are a few things that can be practised –

Be prepared

Be ready with something interesting to say, rather than having to deal with those embarrassing moments of silence. Make sure that you are good company, by turning the small talk into a stimulating piece of conversation.

Small talk is boring because we do not think it is important. We find ourselves answering typical questions, such as, "Hello, how was your day?" with staid replies, "It was okay, how was yours?" There is nothing in this conversation that could qualify as enthralling. It is boring, right.

Begin by telling a story, to keep the narrative compelling. It could be anything, from the chat you had with a new employee, to the meal you had in the office cafeteria. You could talk about something you saw travelling to or back from work. Something you overheard, if you take the public transport.

Your day would definitely have been more than "just okay'. Share your story, keep it entertaining, such that it elicits a response or two. Do not worry if it is not quite the finest account of events, but being armed with something to say, cuts the turf and a dull interaction becomes pleasant.

Do not ramble

Making small talk can be uncomfortable and tricky, which is why many of us either just exchange pleasantries; although some people just ramble away without making much sense. If you have an incident to narrate, stop fumbling your way through with superfluous specifics. This makes the conversation one-sided and lengthy and dull, not exactly something that you would want to happen.

Anyhow, what matters is how you tell your story. You could be narrating an anecdote to a colleague you bumped into or at a social gathering; just do your best to keep it short and sweet. You will be able to keep the audience engaged better.

Find common ground

Starting a conversation is easy when you find you have something in common. It is easy to show interest if the topic of discussion is to our liking; we are naturally inclined towards things we like.

It could be anything, from common shared interests and hobbies, to a game of tennis or your love for books or even distance education for that matter. Common grounds can turn a dull moment into an absorbing chat.

The best way to engage someone in a conversation is to choose a topic that might interest them. They like food, you can talk about good Sunday brunch places or eateries that deliver food. If they are contemplating doing their Masters, you can start a discussion on what makes a better choice, an MBA or Masters.

Whatever topic you choose, talking about subjects that resonate with the other person will keep the conversation going. They will add some bits and you will add some bits and the small talk will become absorbing.

Keep it relevant

Do not be tempted to skip details, no matter what the topic. You do not have to spell out all the details, for that can be quite unnecessary at times; but do try and include the significant parts.

If you are sharing details about an incident, for instance, share how you felt, in case you were part of that event. Were you scared, nervous, excited, jubilant etc? It gives the conversation a personal touch and your story some life.

Adding such elements to the narration make the account more realistic and convincing. Your conversation partner connects with you because you not just making conversation, you are also revealing a human side of you. Your anecdote about a meeting with a business client, which lead to your company getting the order, will be more realistic if you describe your nervous apprehension, before, during and after the event. Adding some spice to the conversation is what makes it fascinating.

Keep it short

You do not want to have a monopoly over the conversation, so, keep your stories short and sweet; it is small talk, after all, and there is a reason why it is called so. Remember, it is a conversation, not a presentation. You need the other person to speak too. They might have an interesting story to share.

This is how it works, you say something, and then the other person adds something. Encourage them to talk.



Small talk in a nutshell

Making small talk is about being pleasant and having a polite conversation. It does not have to have you conversing about your deepest thoughts, opinions or ambitions; it can be exasperating to have to listen to those. You need to fill the awkward silence, after you have met a person, do so with something light and enjoyable.

Before opening the conversation, ask yourself if you would be interested in listening to an anecdote if it was someone else narrating it. That will give you an idea of whether what you want to say falls in the 'enjoyable' category. You can always talk about the weather if you are faced with a situation where you have nothing to talk about. "The weather has turned unpredictable, these days", is a good start.

What stratergies do you follow when making small talk?


Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Comments

Author: umesh25 Aug 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 7

Many people are knowledgeable but are having reserved nature and they do not have a habit of talking anything to anyone unnecessarily.

These people talk only when it is required and necessary. Now, if we happen to start coversation with such people then we may not be successful as their response of 'ya' or just nodding their head will discourage us to venture further.

So it depends on the type of person with whom we want to establish our short conversation.

In general, people do not mind the short and small talks and if we have something amusing or interesting to share, they will in fact welcome us.

Recently, when I was in Banglore with my relatives, during morning walks, I saw some senior people sitting in a group in a nearby park.

As I am also a senior I took this opportunity to mix with them. Believe me that a single hello from my side opened all the doors and for next 10-15 minutes we were simply talking about each other.

So, we have to simply break the initial inhibition when we want to start a small talk with anyone anywhere in any circumstances.

Author: T.M.Sankaran29 Aug 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

Small talk is something which is liked by some, at the same time there are a few who do not show much interest in it. The first category will definitely find out a topic which is of interest to everyone in the group. In the second category even if a topic is identified the reaction from the other person might be just in one or two words, that too without giving any interest in giving the answers. With one or two trials, the beginner will be forced to close the conversation.
Generally, these type of small talks will become interesting only if there is something in common between the individuals involved like working in the same profession or staying in the same area or had studied in the same class or the same political or social setup or interested in literature or cinema, etc. Hence the small talk will takeoff only if one or two topics interesting to all are identified. Of course it will not be difficult since there are several topics.
However, there are a few who likes to be a listener only without involving in the discussion, in such cases it will be difficult to make them talk.

Author: Manish Nanda29 Aug 2018 Member Level: Silver   Points : 4

Good article on a good subject.

I am that sort of a person who really doesn’t like these pleasantries. I find them too boring and not worth the effort. I prefer observing rather than indulging myself in chit-chat that doesn’t lead anywhere.

In a family gathering, the good thing is, you don’t have to pretend, you don’t have to assume a false personality. You can behave and act the way you are and nobody minds, as everybody knows you.

However, at a party, the situation gets too awkward for me. I hate pretending and sometimes you have to do just that. As it’s an artificial behaviour, you cannot do it for long and it becomes too obvious.

The problem is, people no longer believe in originality, you always have to behave according to a set pattern, established and approved by the society.

Guest Author: Harsh Singh30 Aug 2018

This article helped me a lot. Actually, I am a college student and I have to talk to my teachers, classmates and sometimes even with several random people.
But I want to say that if you want to make a conversation with another person you have to be confident, you don't have to hesitate and you don't need to be nervous either. Whatever you want to say just tell that person with full confidence and don't be shy.

Author: Reena Upadhya03 Sep 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 7

It is a very well written article that is going to help lots of people who cannot indulge in small talks.

Small talk comes very naturally to some people. Others might suffer a lot. They don’t know where to begin and how to continue. Small talks seem difficult to most of us as we feel awkward. Small talks aren’t always uninteresting conversations that serve no purpose. These small talks can help expand the brain capacity and make us smart. They help us to understand others perspectives.

Learn to be positive. Do not let the awkwardness to build in the mind. It is a fact that when we open up to someone and deliberately try to make small talks, we will open up to the learning process. Think about it this way. Either you open up and learn something new and build up your social circle or else let the awkwardness build up in mind and escape into the solitude.

Do not think of small talk as a chore. The reason is that it isn’t any chore. Try to be engaging and put in some efforts in the conversation rather than standing alone sipping a drink. Try to be as warm to the other person as possible.



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