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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
How to Make Small Talk

10 Tips For Starting Conversations With People You Don't Know

Making small talk with people you don't know well, such as your boss or a blind date, can be nerve-wracking especially if you want to make a good impression.

Making small talk doesn't have to be painful, even if it's with a boss you want to impress or blind date you want to see alot more of! Believe it or not, making small talk can be fun - even for quiet personality types. Making small talk is also an art that can be learned.

"Sohow about this weather?" doesn't often lead to stimulating dialogue (but don't hesitate to use it if you're desperate). If you must make small talk about the weather, be specific. Say, "It's freezing cold outside have you ever heard that saying, 'colder than ________' ? Where did that come from, anyway?" might work better, depending on who you're talking to.

Making small talk can be difficult even if you're an extrovert, but it's especially difficult for introverts. Here's how to enjoy making small talk.

How to Make Small Talk: 10 Tips for Starting Conversations With People You Don't Know

Keep up with current events. Make small talk about the news, sports, your community, or politics (unless politics is too controversial. On second thought, that can generate some pretty fiery dialogues!)

Comment on a piece of clothing or accessory. Ask where it came from, what the significance is, how much it cost (just kidding). Making small talk is about being observant about people you don't know well.

Pay attention to what they're saying. When you're making small talk, follow up on phrases; for instance, if they say they're "excellent", ask why ask where you can get some. If they mention that they're exhausted, follow up on it. When you're making small talk, remember that great conversations and good connections can be just around the corner.

Share an anecdote about your day. Did you lose your keys or find $10? Maybe you ate at a new restaurant recently, or found a great new CD. Making small talk is about sharing the little things.

Ask what movies or books they've seen or read recently. Someone once asked me that at a party. Admittedly, at first it felt contrived, but then we had a fantastic conversation about the book I was reading! Making small talk is about trying new conversations.

Talk about tv. Share your favourite tv shows - whether it's Oprah's revelation of The Secret or the your favorite sitcom. If you're Canadian, Little Mosque on the Prairie might be interesting to discuss! Making small talk about pop culture is easy and fun.

Recall your past conversations with the same person. Ask if their son is still ill or how the Mexican holiday went. Making small talk is easier when your memory is good.

Ask open-ended questions that require an explanation. For instance, "How are you?" isn't as effective as "Whatever happened with '__________' you were dealing with?" ('__________' could be a business deal, family problem, or financial investment) Remember that anything is a potential topic of conversation.You can even talk about how uncomfortable you are making small talk and ask them how they do it.

Relax. Enjoy yourself. People are interesting! If you combine these tips for making small talk with sincere interest, you'll embark on a fascinating conversational ride.

Let it go. If the conversation feels like dragging a piano uphill then it may be time to move on or let silence take over. You can't connect with everyone, and some conversations simply refuse to take life! Making small talk involves knowing when it's time to move on.

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

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