Your Guide to Small Talk
What’s new? How’s work? Kids behaving? This time of year, it’s backyard barbecues and beach parties galore—which, if you haven’t mastered (or have no interest in) the art of small talk, isn’t as fun as it sounds. Which is pretty sad, considering relationships are one of the great cornerstones of life. You do want to know these people, after all (or most of them anyway.) Why not start trying to put a little more thought into your conversation starters?
When you find yourself tongue-tied or wishing you could fade into the shrubbery, try a more open-ended question. If it's someone new, try “Who do you know here?” or “I like your [fill in accessory here].” Reach out without getting too personal. In other words, “Hear you have roaches” or “Gettin’ any lately?” may not be the best choices. If you find yourself alone at the grill with a neighbor or co-worker, try asking questions that really matter. Ask how they feel about a recent news story or whether they're really enjoying their work. Chances are, they'll appreciate a listening ear—so remember to really pay attention to what they're sharing!
Most people love to talk about themselves, so anything that has to do with them should get the ball rolling. And don't worry if the first attempt or two falls flat—after all, we've been conditioned to idle chit-chat for awhile now. Simply try breaking the ice. You'll be glad you did, especially when your friendships begin to grow stronger because of it!