Learn to Enjoy Making Small Talk

Posted November 30, 2015

We often use small talk to fill in those in-between moments of life, whether it's waiting for a job interview to begin, or standing on the sidelines of a kids' soccer practice.

To some people, small talk comes as easily as inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. But for some of us, small talk is a necessary chore of life that we execute dutifully. This nagging drive to engage in small talk takes on significant importance in business, with some of the most important professional relationships often coming from a little chit-chat.

Instead of seeing small talk as a job, try to approach it as something that can be enjoyed. Start by reducing any anxiety you might have about talking to someone else. Tell yourself you are perfectly able to strike up conservation, and even if you’re unsuccessful - it's not the end of the world.

Engaging with the other person

If you're having trouble trying to think about what to talk with someone else about, tap into your natural curiosity and take a genuine interest in the other person. Just asking how their week is going can unpack an hour's worth of conversation.

Once the other person does start talking, ask a few genuine questions to get some conversational momentum by allowing the other person to talk about themselves. Occasionally share a few relevant details of your own life to keep the conversation from turning into an interrogation.

Next-level small talk

Once you've gotten the ball rolling, you may want to strengthen your connection with the other person by deepening the conversation. This can be accomplished by asking someone open-ended questions about their background. Questions like "How did you get into that line of work?" or "What is your hometown like?" are good ways to take the conversation to the next level. As with the initial part of your conversation, be sure to share interesting and relevant stories with the other person.

During the entire course of the conversation, try to gauge the other person's level of interest. If they seem to be distracted or losing interest, end the conversation and move on. Once again, if you are genuinely taking an interest in the other person and watching their mannerisms, it shouldn’t be hard to spot signs that your small talk efforts are in vain.

When trying to get better at making small talk, be easy on yourself. It takes practice to get good at anything, and the occasional set back is bound to happen. If an effort didn't go well, take a moment to reflect on the interaction and figure out if you said or did anything wrong. Be open to the idea that sometimes people are simply not in the mood to be social.

At Ambassador, one of the leading employment firms in the South, we understand that networking and interviewing can be a grind. If you are looking to pass some of that hustle onto us, feel free to contact us today and we can get started on finding you some employment leads.