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4 Secrets to Successful Small Talk

Aug 18, 2007
Next to public speaking, making small talk is probably one of the things that most people dread - or even fear. The thought of coming up with something witty or interesting to say to a complete stranger, a new acquaintance, your boss, a neighbor - anybody whom you not normally have a conversation with can prove to be quite a daunting experience. However, you need to be able to make small talk if you want to survive any given social scene. Take a look at these small talk tips to help get the conversation going:

1. Be comfortable with who you are.

Self-confidence plays a big role in gathering the courage to actually go out of your way and engage the new people that you meet in small conversation. If you are not comfortable with who you are, you may just remain timid and keep to yourself, even though there is an opportunity for you to widen your social circle through making small talk. Thus, the key to being comfortable enough to make small talk is to try and feel comfortable when you are with other people. Remember that you are not the only one who feels awkward deep inside - the person that you are talking with most probably feel the way! So to save yourself the trouble, you should muster enough self-confidence to make small talk and be a social success.

2. Remember that practice makes perfect.

Don't you just envy the ability of other people to make strangers feel perfectly at ease by engaging them in small talk and a short, friendly conversation? If you do not have the natural inkling to engage in small talk, practice.

If you have never called your landlady by her first name, start getting to know her more by casually chatting with her. If you happen to see tourists or new faces in town, try welcoming them in the neighborhood by engaging them in small talk. You need to start somewhere if you would like to develop those 'rusty' conversational skills.

3. Broaden your knowledge of a wide range of topics.

The weather is probably one of the most worn-out topics of conversation between strangers. To move on from this topic to something more, try broadening your knowledge of a wide range of topics by reading everything from newspapers to magazines to the latest New York Times bestseller. Watch television and get updates on the news, sports, current events, even politics. It is easier to kick off the small talk if you have knowledge in a multitude of topics that will interest others.

4. Ask questions and listen.

One of the misconceptions that a lot of people have when it comes to making small talk is that they feel that they have to do all the talking. Remember that a good conversation is a two-way street. You also need to be polite enough to express interest in what the other person has to say. You can even 'listen' for clues on what seems to be interesting to that person, and the conversation should kick off to something more interesting from there.

Asking questions is also an important part of making small talk. By asking questions which may or may not relate to what has already been said, then you are basically giving them an excuse to continue chatting with you, which essentially breaks the ice and gets rid of any awkwardness.

By following these small talk tips, you will benefit in such a way that you will be able to survive any potentially awkward social situation. Engaging others in small talk is also a polite gesture, and not only that, it also helps boost your confidence and widens your social circle. By giving the 'go' signal to others that you are easy to talk with, they will feel comfortable enough to respond to your attempt at making small talk.
About the Author
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: conversation starters
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