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Small talk is a necessary evil – after all, we can’t just start conversations with strangers asking them about their deepest, darkest secrets. If you do start your conversations that way, let us know how it works out for you!
If you start your conversations by asking “How are you?” then you may want to rethink your small talk strategy, according to Harvard researchers in a CNBC article. In the course of their research, the Harvard researchers discovered that asking meaningful questions during small talk makes you appear more likable and interesting to others. There are several tactics you can use to turn your small talk into successful, meaningful connections with other humans, instead of meaningless drivel.
There’s no other YOU in the world – so embrace it and be you in every conversation. When you’re fully yourself, you’re acting authentically, and that authenticity will shine through in your conversation. True connection with others is dependent on a foundation of authenticity – after all, you can’t build a connection with a façade of someone.
Be Personal and Personable
When you’re making small talk, particularly with someone you’ve never met before, be sure to introduce yourself and say your name clearly. While introducing yourself, Huffpost suggests providing a personal detail about yourself. This not only makes you more personable and approachable but also gives the other person a potential conversation starter to begin a deeper discussion.
Listen – really listen to the other person. Active listening goes beyond just hearing what the other person is saying and acknowledging that they’re speaking. Maintain eye contact when appropriate and give them your full attention. Leave your cell phone in your pocket. When you’re actively listening to the other person, you can engage in the conversation and connect beyond small talk – pick up on the cues in their conversation and their context and carry the conversation deeper than the surface.
Go Beyond Listening
Take it one step further and go beyond listening – be observant. Look carefully at the person you’re speaking to. Watch their body language, observe the words that they choose, the inflection in their voice. Pay attention to the story that they’re telling behind the words. By monitoring the way a person is speaking, you can change topics if you notice that they are uncomfortable, or you can deflect the conversation if they appear to be nervous. As an observant participant, you can make the other person you’re speaking to feel at ease – which increases the odds that you’ll have a deeper connection with each other and go beyond the small talk. Also, pay attention to your surroundings – if there is something interesting or notable going on in your surroundings, it can serve as an opportunity to connect with another person via a shared experience.
Primer Magazine suggests that confidence breeds confidence – so be confident in your small talk. Start by dressing confidently and acting confidently. Make eye contact and speak clearly. When you’re confident in your own actions, you’ll inspire confidence in others as well – and as a bonus, they’ll feel more comfortable talking to you.
Try out these tips the next time you’re stuck making small talk during your day and let us know if they help you forge a deeper connection. Some of the greatest stories and relationships have sparked from a chance encounter! We love telling stories, and if you’ve got a story for us to tell, we want to hear it – contact us at kingcreative.com and we’ll help you find the best way to tell your story.