Small talk is not about size

Two twin little sister girls whisper in earNow that summer vacations are drawing to a close and you’re beginning to schedule fall activities, are you ready for the get-togethers coming up? When we were younger it seemed so much easier to chat with each other. But now it can be complicated to assess the impression we create when we’re speaking with new acquaintances.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your meetings with new friends and coworkers:

Develop conversational intelligence. Beginning a conversation usually means finding a common thread to discuss, so you’ll need to reveal a little about yourself. It might be challenging to find a shared interest but once you do, you can explore additional joint activities and link them in your conversation.    

Learn how to listen. Most of us like to talk about ourselves so be willing to let the other person speak. Ask her questions and follow up by commenting on the topics she mentions. You’ll be seen as interested in her – and judged a more interesting person yourself.

Have some topics ready to chat about. When you’re feeling a little reticent about starting a conversation with someone new, it may help to bring up a subject that you’re familiar with and like to talk about. You can introduce the idea and see how he responds. If he changes the subject, however, follow his lead.

Use body language to your advantage. Recent studies show that adopting a powerful posture actually decreases stress by lowering your levels of cortisol. It also increases confidence by raising the level of the hormone testosterone. Take command of your space by leaning in and expanding your sphere of influence. All of these techniques work together to improve your performance on tasks as well as in social interactions.

Small talk can lead to the beginning of new friendships, more fruitful coworker cooperation or just a pleasant way to pass the time at a party. While it doesn’t come naturally for all of us, we can practice interacting socially and enjoy the new connections we build.

Have you developed strategies of your own to help you in new social situations? Please share them with us in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below. 

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