7 ways to be good at small talk
The best way to master small talk is to watch the British do it. They excel at it. It feels very natural and flowy from the observer’s perspective. Although not all of them feel as confident making small talk and it can get quite awkward, I am still convinced that the British are the best to teach you the art of small talk.
Having lived among English people and having observed them at home and at work, I’ve come up with 7 useful tips on mastering small talk and getting really good at it.
1 Ask a question
I bet the first question that comes to mind is: ‘How are you?’. However, it’s not going to get you anywhere unless you ask a few more questions.
If you bump into your colleague on a Monday morning then it would be appropriate to ask:
‘Did you have a nice weekend?’
If you bump into your colleague on Friday then find out if they are you doing anything nice at the weekend. People like to share things like that, just don’t ask it for the sake of bragging about your own weekend.
If you bump into your colleague mid-week then simply ask if they are doing anything nice tonight.
2 Do a follow-up
After you’ve learnt your colleagues’ plans for the weekend don’t forget to follow up on Monday and ask how their skiing trip went or if they enjoyed the theatre.
3 Enquire about children
Everyone loves to chat about their own children and brag to others how good they are. So if your colleague or boss is this type then happily engage in a conversation and show some interest. If you have children of your own then feel free to share your own amusing stories and pictures of the kids.
4 Talk news
Ask your colleague if they’ve heard the latest news and fill them in if they haven’t. If you have an opinion on the matter and it differs from yours don’t engage in a debate.
5 Keep it flowing
Be curious and ask questions related to the topic. If you are particularly keen on someone and really want to talk to them slightly longer than usual ask an interesting question. It will hopefully keep them talking and make them more willing to engage further. Good questions help break the ice and keep the conversation flowing.
6 Pay a compliment
Start a conversation by complimenting another person’s taste in clothes, their hairstyle, perfume or anything else that you find appealing. Everyone likes compliments and it helps break the ice. Although if they are not particularly chatty and even shy, then you will need a bit more than a compliment to drag any information out of them. I personally find shy and quiet people terrifying as it means you have to do all the talking and then it risks becoming more like an interrogation.
7 Talk weather
British people talk about the weather a lot. It’s considered to be a great ice-breaker since the other person is happy to engage in the weather conversation too. It’s great as it doesn’t oblige you to share any personal information and at the same time, you don’t get to listen to other people’s personal life.