How to Get Better at Small Talk (If You’re Terrible at It)

Disclaimer: This post was originally published on our UK partner’s site.


Small talk is a fact of life. And while some people are naturals, the rest of us struggle to know what to say during casual chit-chat. Those awkward silences grow painful, and leave you feeling like a social failure!

But even if was possible to avoid small talk situations altogether, it wouldn’t be a good idea. Because, get this: small talk is good for you. Not only does it help you bond with your boss, taxi driver, or mother-in-law, it makes you brainier at the same time.

And ultimately we are a social species. Passing the time with each other makes us happier and builds a sense of well-being – even if it feels like torture while it’s happening.

So that’s some research you can mention upfront next time you find yourself in a lift with a friendly stranger. But there are more pointed techniques you can use to keep yourself going when your mind runs blank.

For example, making eye contact helps to build a sense of trust, which makes it easier to talk to each other. Even if you’re shy, try looking your small talk partner in the eye, and varying your look to their other eye and mouth every few moments. Remember: it doesn’t hurt!

And use your talking partner as a source of new topics. Listen very carefully, and ask for details about what they say instead of searching your mind for a fascinating new topic to bring up. Conversations are easier when you ramp-up the empathy as you listen.

We’ve created a new visual guide to lead you through all the stages you need to perfect your small talk game. We looked at the science and realized that other people need not be so scary after all.

Small talk is a skill like any other. Only with this skill, learning how to do it can have benefits for your career, social life – and the way you feel inside. And once you’ve mastered these tips you can leave talking about the weather to the weather report.

How to Get Better at Small Talk Infographic



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Bonnie is a Chicago transplant who's committed to seeing the world on a dime. As an avid news junkie with a fascination with finance, she loves to help others do more with less.

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