The Introverts guide to Mastering the Art of Small Talk
Not everyone was born with the social confidence of inducing small talk. For many introverts, small talk can be squirm worthy and anxiety producing. Most small talk is inconsequential, but it is a really important part of events whether social or professional.
No matter how uncomfortable gatherings may be for introverts, it is possible to learn how to look forward to them.
Use these strategies to master small talk in any social environment:
- Be curious. Introverts are naturally curious and so this is an effective way to take your thoughts away from yourself. Decide that you’re going to learn as much as you can from, and about, the person in front of you. Be prepared and have a few questions up your sleeve so that you can get to know them.
- Use the power of questions. The great thing about asking questions is that it takes the focus away from you. A good question can keep the other person talking for a few minutes. A few decent questions on your part will also leave the other person thinking you’re a brilliant conversationalist. Ask open questions, avoiding questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
- Be courteous with your attention. Nothing saps the energy from a conversation faster than one of the parties showing an obvious lack of interest. Introverts are great listeners so combine this with maintaining eye contact. This one tip will really increase your small talk success.
- Put your phone away. You can survive without it for a few minutes. Others will avoid you if you appear distracted and show that you want to be left alone so stay focused and open to new conversations.
- Make the first move and find someone that wants to talk. At any social gathering there are people that are looking for a conversation partner. Look around and find someone that obviously wants to talk. It’s easy for introverts to build things up in their own minds to be scary and talk themselves out of doing things. When we do make the first move, the reality isn’t as bad as we’ve led ourselves to believe and the outcome is usually much better than we first thought.
- Steer the conversation to something interesting. Work and the weather might be fine for brief conversation, but everyone gets bored with this type of talk. Most people love to be part of an interesting conversation. Consider engaging in conversations about hopes, dreams and / or fears. It’s amazing how people connect and bond with these deeper level conversations.
- Avoid controversial topics. Religion and politics are questionable topics. Everyone has their own opinions, and those opinions rarely change. Overly personal issues are another subject to avoid. You might be thrilled that you finally had surgery for an ongoing health issue, but keep that conversation for those who know you really well. Find something to talk about that’s unlikely to lead to annoyance and / or irritation. Something interesting in the immediate vicinity can be a good conversation starter.
- Get the person’s name, remember it, and use it. You’re likely to exchange names very early in the conversation. Use their name in conversation and memorise it. It would be great to be able to use their name if you happen to bump into them again.
- Don’t be afraid to cut your losses. Some conversations just don’t work out for a variety of reasons. Avoid taking it personally and move on to someone new. Perhaps set yourself a challenge and see how many new people you can speak to. You can make your escape by saying something as simple as, “Please excuse me, I need to find something to drink as I’m feeling rather thirsty. It was nice to speak with you.”
- Smile. You appear more inviting and less intimidating when you smile. You’ll feel more confident, too. People don’t often smile, but most people smile back. Be the first person to smile, you might well make their day!
The best way to master any new skill is practice. Use this information and work on your small talk skills. Just remember that not everyone will be thrilled to talk to you. That’s their issue, not yours. Keep going until you find a willing conversation partner. It really won’t take long at all.
With practice, introverts can master the art of small talk and expand their opportunities both personally and professionally.
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