Like many introverts, small talk has historically been very challenging for me. There is only so much you can say about the weather or how you once drove through someone’s hometown. Awkward silence always takes over at some point.
After reading the book “Quiet”, I have made a concerted effort to improve my conversational acumen. My conclusions:
1) Never ask about the weather. Even though interest in the weather has spiked since the polar vortex’s premiere, I think that talking about weather is boring and a lazy way to try to connect with others. Remote conversations are an exception but, if you are face to face, you are bound to enter a dead end, mundane, discussion.
2) Try to compliment the person. I have found that compliments really grab a person’s attention and pique interest. Compliments also can be the perfect segue into a conversation. I love to compliment eyewear and find that people love to talk about a snazzy pair of glasses. They want to tell you where they bought them, if they wear contacts, and many times, the discussion transitions into more substantive topics.
3) Get comfortable with silence. I used to dread the threat of awkward silence. What is the other person thinking? Are they bored? Probably not but, if they are, disinterest is part of meeting new people. Everyone is not going to like you or be interested in a prolonged conversation.
4) Research the person before you meet. If you have the luxury to do research on someone, you have the ability to completely eliminate small talk. An abundance of topics await on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, Facebook, Pinterest and blogs.
How do you navigate small talk?