1. Prepare Beforehand
- What’s your 30-second story of who you are, what you’re doing and why you care so much?
- Save everyone from awkward silences with good go-to stories that you have prepared beforehand. Think about exciting past experiences, funny things that happened to you or people you know, or anything else that would be somewhat entertaining. Once you have a few you think will work, practice telling them. You can even write them down if you want to. You don’t need to over-rehearse, but you want to be able to pull these stories out at any time.
- Obey The 3-Second Rule. When you see someone interesting to talk to, you have three seconds to walk up and say hello.
- Get your “foot in the door” with something banal and unoriginal.
- Weather – People talk about the weather all the time. Do you know why? Because 1) everyone can relate to it and 2) it sparks a different conversation often enough. Don’t be afraid to be unoriginal, even if it’s just to get your foot in the proverbial door. Talking is the first step.
- Where you’re/they’re from
- A late bus or train
- Movie recommendations
- Read any good books lately?
- Use the FORD Technique to Make Small Talk Easier – Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. Share Small Details Until One Idea Sticks.
- Repeat the other person’s name during the conversation, when meeting them for the first time.
- If you want to endear someone to you quickly, ask them for advice. Doesn’t matter what on, just asking for their opinion on anything shows that you respect them and value their input.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. You’re not that interesting to them.
- Let people talk about themselves when they want to talk about themselves.
- If small talk is your goal, you should aim for volume, not depth.
- Act like they’re already your friend. A word of warning: done incorrectly, you can put off a lot of people. Instead, keep conversation light–as if you’ve already met these people. say the kinds of things you might say to someone you already know. “Let them in” on your current thoughts. Remove the social filter and simply start talking. You’d be surprised at how many people will pick up on your friendly vibe and reciprocate in turn. Then, at some point, it’s easy to simply say, “I’m ___, by the way.” Voila! Introductions made, and a new context has been set.
- Introduce friends by explaining what you value about them.
- Keep the conversation focused on them. Focus on the emotions. Use plenty of “we” statements, along with a balanced amount of “you’s” and “I’s”. Address logic first and then finish your response by addressing emotions.
- When introducing two people to each other, make a point of using both of their names a few times in the ensuing conversation.
Turn Small Talk Into Good Conversation by Asking About Their Passions: When a friend of yours tells you (or a group) that she went horseback riding and had an amazing time, don’t ask “Where did you go?”, rather ask “I have never done horseback riding. What makes it so exciting?” I guarantee you that any person who is passionate about the topic will not only teach you a ton – in an interesting way – but will also like you more and feel closer to you afterwards.
- Simply repeat—or parrot—the last two or three words your companion said, in a sympathetic, questioning tone. That throws the conversational ball right back in your partner’s court. It shows you’re listening, interested, and lets them get back to telling their story.
- Reflect Their Emotions Back At Them in Full – What to say: “No way!” “Are you serious?” “I can’t believe that happened.” “What did you DO?”
4. Useful Responses / Lines
- “You gotta have patience for that”
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- What would constitute a perfect day for you?
- What superpower would you want?
- “If you had to choose between a year in Europe with a $2,000/month stipend or 10 minutes on the moon, which would you choose?”
- “Tell me more.”
- “That’s interesting. Why would you do that?”
- “That’s interesting. Why would you say that?”
- How awesome was your day? Even if they haven’t been having a good day, it sort of forces them to think of something good that happened to them that day. I use this all the time, its more cheerful than the boring “how are you”
5. Things To Keep In Mind
- Don’t say X is better than Y. Say that you prefer X over Y.
- Use the phrase “My understanding was…” instead of “I assumed…”
- Stop Saying “Actually” to Avoid Making People Feel Stupid
- Learn to Say No By Always Asking for Time to Think
- Always be positive.
- Stop saying “But” and start saying “And”, i.e., be constructive
- Smile. Don’t flash an immediate smile when you greet someone, as though anyone who walked into your line of sight would be the beneficiary. Instead, look at the other person’s face for a second. Pause. Soak in their persona. Then let a big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. It will engulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-second delay convinces people your flooding smile is genuine and only for them.
- Don’t break eye contact even after he or she has finished speaking. When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly. Take note colour of their eyes. Describe the colour of her eyes to yourself. Length of her eyelashes. Count their blinks.
- Follow Up
- Don’t Be Afraid of Silences: Give Others a Chance to Get to Know You
- When you meet with someone in person, shut off your phone completely
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. You’re not that interesting to them.
- When you walk into a room alone, look for pairs of people who are talking, and introduce yourself to each person.
- Let people finish before interjecting with agreement or otherwise.
- Compliment Enough and Accept Compliments Well
- Whenever you have an argument with someone, stand next to them and not in front of them.
- If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait. They will keep talking.
- Realize others do not have to share your opinions.
- Mirror their body language. Use their name.
- Don’t comment on physical appearance.
- When telemarketers call, politely tell them, “put me on your do not call list.”
- A Gentleman Never Arrives Empty-Handed
- When you read something that strikes you as interesting, write to the author.
- Practising empathy:
- Don’t just know, try to understand.
- Maintain positivity & high energy
- Be the one who says see you later, be occupied. (this is a big one to appear as a attractive person)
- Instead of saying ‘yeah you told me’ when someone repeats a story, say ‘yes, I remember this.’
6. Special Cases
- An apology consists of:
- A clear ‘I’m sorry’ statement.
- An expression of regret for what happened.
- An acknowledgment that social norms or expectations were violated.
- An empathy statement acknowledging the full impact of our actions on the other person.
- A request for forgiveness.
- Eliminate “If” and “But” for More Sincere Apologies
- When apologizing, replace the word “but” with a pause
- Whenever you need a favor, open with “I need your help.”
- Apologize for Anything Before Asking for a Favor
- Make someone do something small for you, then ask for your true favor
- Be Immediate
- Ask the recipient what they thought.
- Sandwich the feedback between two compliments.
- Make the feedback about the project, not the person.
- Be Specific.
- Tie Feedback to Goals
- Suggest actionable steps.
- “I hadn’t thought of that, …”
- For example, next time you’ve worked hard on a project, your boss compliments your ability to deliver under pressure, and you’re tempted to tell him or her, “it wasn’t a big deal,” consider the fact that you might be deflecting. Instead, try to replace this gut reaction with a simple “thank you.” And when someone thanksyou, The Muse suggests embracing “you’re welcome” instead of shrugging off gratitude for hard work or even for a favor:
The funny thing is, “You’re welcome” is so easy, but also so overlooked. If you listen to yourself the next 10 times someone thanks you, I’d bet your response is more along the lines of “Sure,” “No problem,” or “Any time.”
So, practice saying, “You’re welcome” in daily life (e.g., after someone thanks you for holding the door open). Then, you’ll be able to say it much more readily when a co-worker thanks you for helping him out with a big project.
- Give Before You Receive. The gesture can be as simple as forwarding a relevant article or providing an introduction to someone who can further the person’s own interests.
6. Useful Links