The Art Of Small Talk: Quick Tips To Help You Get A Conversation Started

Atmaj Vyas , 16 Jul 2018
Small Talk (Image Courtesy: Shutterstock)
Small Talk (Image Courtesy: Shutterstock)

Alright, so maybe having to make small talk isn’t exactly the best thing ever. But still, you can’t always just stand in silence and be awkward, right? While being social comes naturally to a lot of people, there is are a whole bunch of people who find it difficult to start or carry on conversations with people they’ve just met. So to help you, here are some quick tips that can get the conversation started.

1. The Ice-Breaker

The first and most integral part about starting a conversation with someone you’ve just met is how you break the ice. If you start off too strong, you’re may intimidate the other person or make them slightly defensive. This will usually result in the conversation either ending or not going in the intended direction. It’s always good to start in a manner that allows you to get to know the person and then build on that. For example, a basic question would be– Hey, so what do you do? Or even something as basic as– I love what you’re wearing! Where did you get that from? These sort of questions make you seem interested in knowing the other person and also shows them that you’re actually trying to have a conversation. Just remember that the questions you start with should be friendly.

2. The Follow-Up

Your follow-up question is basically what will guarantee how and more importantly if your conversation proceeds. Once you’ve broken the ice, it’s always good to follow up with a question about something they’ve already said. You need to build a conversation so utilise something they’ve mentioned and then form your conversation based on that. It’s important to remember that if you ask them something completely unrelated to your first question, you might come across as slightly nosey or maybe even rude. You want to get to know them, not hire them in your company, so don’t grill them like it’s an interview. For example, if you’ve asked them what they do and they’ve replied that they are a doctor, your next question would be pertaining to something they do. You can’t suddenly ask them where they like to party on new years eve. Context matters and if you pay attention, you’ll see the dots that will allow you to continue the conversation. Also, try to avoid using monosyllabic answers. No one wants to hear a K at the end of what they’ve said.

3. Body Language & Gestures

Another really important thing to remember when having a conversation with someone is your body language. If you seem distracted or disinterested, it’s pretty easy for another person to pick up on that. This will end up taking your conversation downhill. Also, gestures like hand movements and facial expressions also count. If you suddenly roll your eyes mid-conversation, that’s a pretty clear indication that you don’t really care for anything they are saying. Also, it’s rude AF. Be mindful of how you’re coming across and remember it’s the smallest details that could make or break or conversation. Oh, yeah, remember that a conversation is a two-way street. So if you notice the same things in the other person, that’s probably a sign to say bye and excuse yourself.

4. Direction Of The Conversation

If you’ve managed to get till here, you’ll realise that your conversation is heading in a certain direction. It’s always good to be able to read the direction the conversation is heading in because it then allows you to steer it or correct course. If you feel you need to correct the course of a conversation, it’s always good to identify where the conversation is headed and then move it along with another question, one that allows you to change the direction. For example, if a conversation is headed down a dark path, you could say; Well, this turned dark pretty quick! Maybe we could talk about puppies! It also helps de-escalate a topic and lets you keep it in check. It’s crucial that you try to be as polite and humorous as possible. Immediately shutting down a conversation and trying to change it is pretty rude and usually will cut all possibility of a continuing a conversation.

Remember that a conversation is a two-way street and it’s about mutual respect and comfort. If you don’t make the other person feel welcomed or comfortable with the conversation, it’s just not going to happen. Additionally, if you’re disrespectful, expect the same back. Try being more aware because every single conversation usually has small indicators that will help you keep track of how best to proceed. While at first, it may be tricky, eventually, it gets pretty easy.

How do you start a conversation? Are there any tricks you think we should know about? Let us know in the comments below.

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