Silence… Perfectly fine if you are all alone. However, in social situations, it is just kind of expected that you’ll talk to others. If the thought of being a “Chatty Kathy” or “Chatty Kenneth” makes you want to steer clear of others in social settings, here are some thoughts on how you can come to appreciate and be great at small talk.
- First, lower your expectations about small talk. It is basically a conversation about otherwise insignificant or unimportant topics. As a shy or introverted person, you may be looking for the “meat” in a conversation. Let’s start by just forgetting about that. Nothing substantive is involved… at least not initially.
- Second, know that you can learn to do it (not necessarily with ease, but definitely) with practice. If you make a mental note of small talk that others have initiated with you, you’ll recognize a few common convo starters. Hey, how are you? How do you like this weather? You a Saint’s fan? You have plans for the weekend? Isn’t this the best spinach and artichoke dip ever? By recognizing questions that facilitate chit-chat, you can develop a mental list of small talk topics to use as the occasion arises.
- Third, consider small talk a tool for building relationships. A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed the science-backed benefits of small talk or chit-chat. In addition to eliminating silence, small talk can help you diversify your social network (think fond acquaintances); gain appreciation for people from different walks of life; and, of course, start a pleasant conversation in an otherwise uncomfortable situation.
Whether you’re ready or not, small talk will be up front and center anytime that you gather with others.
The best way to prepare yourself is to anticipate it, recognize what constitutes small talk, and be open to the possibility of learning a bit about others.
Small talk can be difficult for shy and introverted types. However, you can be absolutely great at it.
by writer, Tommeka Semien
Tommeka Semien is a non-profit professional, mom of three and two extras, operator of LN2 Consulting, freelance writer and blogger at www.luckyno2.com.