Making Small Talk: Best Tips for Men


How a man should handle himself during small talk, not embarrass himself and leave a good first impression in an unfamiliar company?

The art of small talk can come in handy in the most unexpected situations. On the first date, during small talk, at an interview and even during a business negotiation that takes place in an informal atmosphere. It seems that it could be easier than talking about all kinds of nonsense. But to many of us, for some reason, this simple task can be quite difficult. And while we are clinging, awkwardly silent, convulsively inventing jokes, all attention to yourself is attracted by those who are kept in an easy and unconstrained manner. How can we learn how to be good at small talk?

the art of small talk

What is small talk

First off, we should define small talk:

Small talk is a casual dialogue between two people that have just met. It can, of course, grow into a thorough conversation, in friendship, business cooperation or something equally grandiose, but later. It is well known that we need to start small. Americans can enthusiastically talk about the weather for half an hour, and the French about wine or politics, yet we are usually lost when we meet an unfamiliar person.

Small talk topics:

Choosing a good topic is at the core of how to master small talk. Are there any good topics for any small talk? Yes, the most common ones are likely to be boring from the start. Moreover, the aspect of choosing a topic for small talk is a question of what NOT to talk about, rather than what to talk about. To be a good initiator of a small talk - one must be witty, intelligent and know when and what is appropriate. Be a good generator of small talk ideas on the go. But in general, what are the common topics we need to avoid during a small talk?

Politics, especially statement of personal opinion, especially one that is radically inclined in one direction or another. Religion, has always been a and will be an uncomfortable topic for a conversation. Don’t make small talk sexy or too intimate, it is a touchy subject.

Yes, in general, any other topic that may force an angry reaction or a radical opinion out of you or another person.

Small talk questions

There are 4 types of small talk questions:

1. Openers:

This is the art of making small talk, or rather, starting it. If you want to join a company where the conversation is already on, the best opener will be to ask a question about what is being discussed. When joining a company, do not change the topic of the conversation, otherwise the group will feel uncomfortable.

  • Hello, my name is Marty. Have you known the owner of the house for a long time?
  • Hi, great music. Do not know how is this song called?
  • Hello, my name is Marty. Jim is my boss. A beautiful house, isn’t it?
  • Delicious, isn’t it?

small talk questions2. Questions to keep a conversation going:

Learn a few comments that will help to maintain a conversation, fueling it. Such questions ask others about their opinion and for something to comment on. If the topic of the conversation is a new film or a popular TV show, the small talk examples for such situation will be:

  • Did you like this movie?
  • What is this film about?
  • And what about it did you like?
  • What is the idea of the film?
  • What do you think about the actors?
  • I wonder why this show is so popular? What do you think of it?

3. Transitional questions:

Introverts often feel insecure during small talks. If the topic of the conversation begins to feel exhausted, becomes uncomfortable or too personal, it's good to remind yourself that you can control the situation. Transfer the conversation into a safer route before the conversation ship breaks against the rocks of discomfort. It is often a good idea to take the conversation back - to what was said earlier. For example:

  • You said that you are a teacher. What children do you teach?
  • You mentioned your vacation. Where do you like to go?
  • You said that you have a son. How old is he?

4. Closing phrases:

When you are going to leave, whether it's a one-on-one conversation or in a group, it's important to say something. Do not disappear like a ghost. Farewell should be short and clear. It rarely can be of a questioning nature. A few of the lines below will help you come out of the conversation, so practice - and do not take it to heart if someone applies them to you.

  • Sorry, I need to get a glass of water.
  • It’s a very interesting conversation, but I see my boss there. I need to greet him.
  • Sorry, I promised to call to check how my children are doing.
  • Sorry, I'm going to pour myself some juice. But we will return later to the conversation.
  • Is the bathroom there? Thank you.
  • Oh, there's Sam. I must talk to him.
  • I'm sorry, but I promised my hostess to help her in the kitchen.
  • I think that I will now move to the side of the buffet – there seems to be fewer people.

General small talk tips

So, as we’ve already discussed the small talk topics, what are our small talk tips of choice?

1. Relax

Remember, like in a movie, when the protagonist in an exciting situation starts to clumsily use his hands, convulsively tosses his feet, straightens his hair or removes invisible hairs from his jacket, trying to show with his whole appearance that he is completely relaxed. In order not to become the king of such comedies, learn to really relax. One is helped by a couple of deep breaths, the other - a couple of glasses of wine.

small talk tips2. How to start

Where to begin? Do not talk about the weather ... Although, the habit of talking to strangers about the weather is a perfectly reasonable thing. Psychologists say that starting a conversation is easiest with neutral topics that are related to the surrounding reality. And this is usually the weather or the place where the event is held. Look around, comment on the interior, music, and maybe even some of the guests to whom everyone's attention is particularly attracted to.

3. Keep the distance

It's time to remember the school lessons of ethics. The first contact should be the eye contact. Each person has a personal space which a stranger is better not to invade. During small talk, keep the distance at about arm's length. And it's better to refrain from touching, approving pats on the shoulder and other intrusions into personal space that you can afford when communicating with friends and family.

4. Homework

Well, the weather and a wonderful evening in the purple sunset were discussed, what next? Often people get stuck at the initial stage of small talk. If no one can develop the dialogue further, awkward long pauses begin, unfunny jokes begin to appear, but they only aggravate the situation. What then, after the weather? This stage should be prepared in advance. If you go to an exhibition of paintings, it would not be superfluous to spend at least 30 minutes studying the subject of the exhibition. A few little-known facts can be presented to a person of small talk together with the phrase: "Have you heard that ..." and the continuation of the conversation will not keep you waiting. The facts are usually followed by an exchange of opinions and impressions. Thus, you can find a lot in common with a person.

5. In search of common things

By the way, it is the search for common themes, common interests, habits, and attachments that is the main key to establishing a good first impression. Remember how easy it is for young moms or football fans of one club to establish contact, and how easily two Airborne Officers calculate each other in an unfamiliar company! People like coincidences, and we feel much more comfortable in the company of the alike.

6. To avoid conflict

Starting the conversation, it should be remembered that there is a certain list of forbidden topics. After all, in any large company there will always be both supporters and opponents of, say, one or another hockey club, gaming machines, Orthodox fasting, etc. Therefore, in order not to get trapped and not to provoke a fierce argument, smoothly turning into a fight, not to be in the center of the scandal and not to spoil your evening, it is better to avoid such topics as politics, religion, reforms, war and the like.

7. The Bloodhound technique

Imagine yourself as a true detective for a while. Carefully listening to every word of your interlocutor, look for explicit clues that will point you to their favorite topics of conversation. Having sensed the right track, you can easily unravel the tangle of conversation, developing threads of favorite topics of the interlocutor.

8. Not a day without news

Take as a rule - do not leave a place without fresh news. The Internet today allows you to be a well-versed interlocutor in virtually any field. While going in search of news, go to proven sites the truthful ones, not fictitious. But gossip is best to left at home.

9. Don’t drag the small talk

Some of us are so terribly afraid of "drowning" the conversation with silence, that they begin to comment on everything that they see and hear. And some in their unceremonious brightness go even further - they begin to "shoot" with jokes like a machine gun. But people usually get tired quickly, and endless jokes and witticisms in an unfamiliar company may look inappropriate and stupid. But a thankful listener is loved by almost all strangers. So, consider this and know how to maintain a delicate balance between silence and chattering.

small talk ideas10. Change direction

It also happens that it's not you but someone who imposes their company and topics for conversation on you. You can survive the stories about the deep sense of the big black blob on the white sheet for some time, but if the degree of patience is off scale, then it becomes necessary to gently get rid of the uncomfortable interlocutor. In this case, the phrase "excuse me, I need to find one person" is perfect for. But you can use another method - to reverse the course of story and gently transfer the conversation into an interesting topic for you. Then the annoying interlocutor can leave.

Small talk generator

Recently, on the Internet, as a joke, a generator of small talk has appeared, or as it is also called, a real generator of delirium. Enter any word into the box and the program gives an incoherent tirade of nonsense with the addition of the word entered.

If you feel that “the eloquent talker” is not about you, and you cannot shine in public with grandiloquent reasoning, then perhaps you will be comforted by the following though: many truly bright personalities often don’t know how to small talk. Great scientists and poets often felt themselves to be small children when it was necessary to chat freely about nonsense. And in general, the main secret of charm in respect to any situation lies in only one thing - in naturalness. Releasing your mind from prejudices and stereotypes is the only way to be an interesting person, regardless of company and society.

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