Tips To Get Beyond Small Talk

Isn’t life mostly about social interactions?

We meet new people . It becomes vital that we have the ability to communicate with them. While most of us are comfortable meeting others from shared backgrounds and cultures, we do not have that luxury in the real world.

To make such interactions fun and easy, I would like to share some techniques that I picked up a few years ago and found hugely beneficial:

• Small talk after the introductory ‘Hi’

• Learning the other person’s background

• Starting a conversation

• Keeping the conversation going

SMALL TALK

You’ve met someone for the first time, exchanged greetings, but stuck right there? If the other person needs on oral communication, he/she is going to start a conversation that could possibly extend longer. The trick is to sense the person’s mood by venturing simple questions like “Nice party, huh?” If she responds with “Yeah, this is great. I love this” and goes on to talk more, that’s a hint the person probably has a liking for crowds. And the tone of voice tells you their current mood.

GETTING TO KNOW

Generally, we all want to know two basic things: where people come from, and what their profession is.

When you ask where they’re from and get an answer, make sure you follow it up with interesting facts. For instance, you ask “Where are you from?” and get an answer “Washington, DC”, just augment it with “Wow, DC was designed by the same guy who designed Paris”. This opens up a variety of topics such as beauty of cities, places to visit in Paris, wine, etc.

Next, it’s impolite to ask “So what do you do?” or “What is your profession?”. A polite way to do this is to ask “How do you spend most of your time?” That makes them tell you about his work, though you never asked him explicitly.

BUILDING A CONVERSATION

Building a real conversation is arduous. However, it is easy with the following technique. During the small talk, we should pick up cues from our conversation partner’s words and associated moods. Say, you found her utter “This room has ” – which is an indicator that she has an interest in interior design. Here is your chance to continue the conversation on the lines of that subject and auxiliary topics such as ambience, lighting, furniture, etc.

SUSTAINING THE CONVERSATION

We’ve all been through those moments when it is our turn to talk and we just don’t know what to say. It can be rather awkward to get stuck like this. An easy and effective way to avoid such a situation is to just parrot your conversation partner’s last in a questioning tone.

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For an expanded version of this post, please see the original post.

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