Small talk is inevitable! Whether networking, meeting new clients, exploring business opportunities or even in the course of one’s daily life, we are faced with numerous occasions which demand we start and sustain conversations with people we don’t know too well; many times with our success dependant on this ability.
This might not make a lucky few of us break into a sweat, but for others the prospect can be a little intimidating. So let’s look at some tips that will help us cultivate this skill.
When you ask questions, the onus falls on the other person to answer and relieves you of major responsibility of the conversation. It also shows that you are interested in them. Only make sure your questions encourage answers that go beyond monosyllabic responses of yes and no. More often than not, the answer will provide you with options for follow-up questions. Asking open ended questions is a great conversation builder generating opportunities for a meaningful interaction.
Being an attentive listener has a big pay off. One, people always appreciate it more when you seem to be genuinely interested in them. Two, paying attention will give you material to continue the conversation. You could also chance upon common interests that can help forge a better bond. Third, it can give you clues into what they need. This can be especially helpful if you are trying to generate new business or improve on your existing numbers.
Be genuine and don’t give in to distractions
Don’t let your discomfort with small talk deny you a good conversation. Look at the opportunity as a chance to have some interesting conversation and learn new things. Just being genuine and showing interest will help people open up to you. But this requires that you let yourself have the possibility of doing so. Indulging in distractions or using your phone as a defense shield will imply you are not interested and sabotage any potential conversation.
Don’t hesitate to end the conversation
It is always handy to have a pre-planned exit. If the conversation starts to lag too much, or if it is finished, thank the person for the conversation and wrap it up.