Note: This is a guest post from Faizal Nisar of FaizalNisar.com
Becoming a champion at small talk has its benefits. You’ll have more friends, more fun, more confidence, and more to talk to about. Mastering the art of small talk requires practice at first, but becomes a natural act after a while. To use this guide effectively, you must put into practice all of the steps outlined because they are interrelated.
1. Be knowledgeable: Knowledge is key to being good at small talk. What are you going to talk about if you don’t know anything? Now I’m not saying you have to be an expert in every single category but basic knowledge is necessary. Learn a little about everything. Read books on cooking, browse through magazines about celebrities, or watch videos on dancing. This way no matter what the person is interested in, you’ll have something to relate to them with.
2. Find common grounds: When you find something that you and the other person can both relate to, it builds instant rapport. People are attracted to others who share similar interests, experiences, or knowledge. How do you find common ground? Well, you can use three methods to do this: through compliments, asking questions, or using the surrounding environment to your advantage. Let me explain each one more clearly.
- Compliments: When you give someone a compliment, you acknowledge them. Recognition makes people feel good. You can give a compliment about anything. The most success I’ve had with this technique is when I compliment what they wear. Say something like, “I love those shoes, they look so good on you.” Most likely, the other person will respond with a genuine smile and say something like, “Thanks” or “Thanks, I just got them.” How can you develop the conversation from that point? You ask questions.
- Ask Questions: Asking questions is very important in any conversation you have. It gives you the opportunity to learn about others and relate to them with the knowledge you already have. Let’s continue with our example. After the other person says thanks to you, you simply ask a question related to whatever you complimented them on. “Where did you get them from?” is a good simple example. Or if the shoes are heels you can say, “Do you wear heels a lot”? Any question that’s related to what you asked about will be effective in developing the conversation. If they answer back and tell you the store they got it from, you can continue the conversation by asking more questions like, “Oh I love that store, do you go there a lot?” or if you’re knowledgeable about the store you can say, “I saw that they’re having a huge sale going on right now, do you shop there often?” When you ask questions, you’ll discover who they are and find out how you can relate to them.
- Use the environment: Using the environment for small talk involves talking about something that’s going on right now that the other person can relate to. Typically, this technique is used to start the conversation and develop it into something else. One common example is using the weather. You can say something like, “Wow, we’re getting some great weather, aren’t we?” They will respond by agreeing with you because it’s true. Then you use your knowledge and say, “I heard this weekend’s going to have even better weather, you have any plans made?” See the transition there? It starts with weather and then develops into plans for the weekend. Once you get their answer, you can use more questions to continue the conversation.
Now how can you become great at utilizing these methods?
3. Practice, practice, practice: Practice makes perfect. You can practice role-playing in your mind or in front of a mirror. This experience makes you confident. When you’re ready, start practicing with real people. Give a compliment to someone or talk about the environment. From there, use questions to develop the conversation. Start practicing and watch your small talk skills grow.
Faizal Nisar, who inspires others from his own inspiration, writes at FaizalNisar.com on the subject of self improvement . His free book, The Instant Success Guide, can be found on FaizalNisar.com and will change how you approach success.
Photo by TiagÃ¸ Ribeiro