The Art of Small Talk

Being successful in the real world goes beyond just having the education and pedigree to be successful. You also need to have people skills. People want to work with other people that they enjoy being around. Learning how to make people feel comfortable around you is one of the secrets to success.

Making small talk might sound like the easiest thing in the world to do, but it’s not. Some people are very shy and find it difficult to walk up to a total stranger and start chatting them up. Others have a fear of rejection. With just a little practice, you can master the art of small talk in just eight easy steps.

Eight Steps to Mastering the Art of Small Talk

  • Practice. Everyone you come across is an opportunity to sharpen your conversation skills: cashiers, waiters, people you’re in line with, neighbors.
  • Catch up on your reading. Reading newspapers, magazines, books and blogs will give you ideas of stuff to talk.
  • Get cultured. We’re not saying you need to become an expert on Renaissance poetry, but cultural forms such as television, music, sports, fashion, art and poetry are great sources of conversation.
  • Keep a journal. Funny and interesting things happen to us all the time. By writing them down, you make sure you don’t forget them. These kinds of anecdotes are crucial to the art of small talk.
  • Talk to yourself in the mirror. Yeah, we know it sounds silly but trust me it works. Come up with a random list of topics and practice holding a conversation with yourself while drawing all the topics in.
  • Try something new. New experiences are memorable because they are different. They can be great fodder for small talk conversation. Try sushi. Play paintball. Try out for Teen Jeopardy. Small talk is a lot easier when you have interesting anecdotes to share.
  • Listen. Even though small talk is about you opening your mouth, in order for it to work the other person has to be engaged in the conversation. That means listening as much as you speak and asking follow-up questions to show you are interested.
  • Relax. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. People can be fascinating. Before you know it, you’ll even be enjoying the conversation!