Most introverts don’t like small talk. When meeting someone for the first time, you probably feel awkward, anxious, or even bored. You don’t know what to say, or maybe you feel like you’re wasting your time. But small talk is unavoidable. You need it to make friends and socialize. It can help you get your dream job or make connections that will take your career to the next level. Even if you don’t like it, small talk will play an important role in your life.
Take this situation….
You’ve been invited to a networking event with a bunch of professionals in your field. This is a perfect opportunity to find a new project to work on, but you’re nervous about making small talk. One of the strangest things about introverts is that they struggle with casual conversations and excel at harder ones. They’d rather spend hours digging deep with a friend than five minutes exchanging pleasantries with a stranger.
Introverts naturally take longer to open up than extroverts. This is why introverts struggle the most at the beginning of any conversation. Unfortunately, the first thing you say often sets the tone for the entire interaction. At that networking event, first impressions are everything. If the conversation doesn’t go well, why would they choose you for their new project?
So how do you make sure your small talk doesn’t ruin your chances?
The key is picking the right thing to talk about.
Here are 7 easy conversation starters that will work for you.
1. How They Met 🤼
When meeting a stranger, get them to tell you a story. People love talking about themselves, so you can immediately score points by asking about their life. This simple conversation starter gets them telling a story right off the bat. When we meet new people, we frequently use someone we already know as a middleman.
So start by asking how the two of them met.
No matter how it actually happened, their story will give you a bunch of new information to work with. Let’s say they went to elementary school together. You can ask for some funny stories from when they were younger. Or maybe they were both interns at the same company. You can ask what it was like to work there or what they liked most about their internship.
So why does this conversation starter work so well?
The answer is pretty simple.
Nostalgia just gets people in a great mood. When recalling old memories, our brains release chemicals like dopamine that make us feel happy. By getting someone to tell you stories, you’re flooding your brain with feel-good chemicals, which makes them enjoy talking to you a whole lot more. This question also gets the other person to be vulnerable. When you listen to their stories, the other person will feel a stronger connection to you.
This provides you with the perfect opportunity to share a personal story of your own. By reciprocating their vulnerability, you create small talk that will leave a lasting impression.
2. Travel 🧳
You won’t always have a middleman to talk about. Sometimes, you’ll have to create a conversation out of thin air. You know nothing about them. They know nothing about you. So what do you say? Travel ✈ is a subject everyone likes to talk about. Why?
Because it’s interesting to hear about cultures and lifestyles that differ from your own. If you’ve road-tripped across the country, talk about something funny you saw on the road. If you went on a vacation overseas, tell them about your favourite part of the trip. Talking about travel like this will breathe life into any conversation. It gives you limitless things to talk about, even if you’ve never actually gone anywhere exciting.
You can still ask them about the best trip they’ve ever taken. Or, if they could go anywhere in the world, ask where they would go. Everyone likes to fantasize about faraway destinations, so these questions will make small talk more fun for the both of you. Like any good conversation starter, you should use travel as a jumping off point. Don’t be afraid 😨 to ask questions and take things in a new direction when it feels natural.
3. Food 🍝
Food is another topic that everyone will enjoy. Whether you’re meeting your boss or a new friend, you can always use food to get the conversation rolling. Food is something we think about every day. In fact, we go to great lengths to make sure we love what we’re eating 🍴.
We spend money at restaurants, buy special ingredients, and read books to make sure our food is as delicious as possible. Anything that is this important to our lives makes a great conversation starter. But you can’t just tell them what you ate for breakfast. You have to incorporate food into a story. For example, talk about how you ate the world’s best shawarma at a fast food joint nearby. Believe it or not, this simple story can be all you need to start a great conversation.
4. Music 🎶
For informal conversations, music can be an easy way to find common ground. Commonality is critical for a good first impression, because people naturally bond with things they relate to. If something reminds you of yourself, it will feel comfortable.
Filmmakers actually take advantage of this human tendency all the time. That’s how they get us to care about non-human characters like animals, robots, and toys. By having something in common with someone, you become relatable. And when we relate to something, we’re likely to remember it. So how does this relate to music?
Music is a sure-fire way to connect with someone, because of how common it is. Everyone has a favourite genre, artist, or song. You’ll never catch someone off guard by asking what kind of music they like. If you two like the same music, you become more relatable, comfortable, and, most importantly, memorable.
5. Hobbies 🎭
Instead of asking, “what do you do?” or “what line of work are you in?” spice up your small talk by discussing their hobbies. People get asked about their work all the time. They probably recycle the same half-hearted responses, because they’re so tired of that question.
It’s rare for someone to ask or care about what they do for fun. You’ll notice that people come alive when they get the chance to talk about their hobbies. Unlike our jobs, our hobbies and passions are usually private. We invest so much time and effort into them, but don’t usually share them with other people.
For example, everyone might know that you work in the Bank, but how many people know that you also illustrate comics in your free time 🤷♂️. Many people hide their hobbies because they’re worried about what others will think. By asking about their hobbies, you’re showing that you support them. They’ll feel confident and secure knowing you’re genuinely interested in their hobbies. On top of that, you’ll develop a stronger connection that can potentially develop into a friendship.
6. Plans 📰
If it feels too personal to ask about someone’s hobbies, ask them if they have any upcoming plans. Say you run into a coworker at a holiday party. You’re not all that interested in becoming friends with them. You just don’t want to stand there in silence. So what should you say?
Ask if they have any big plans for the holiday. Most of the time people are either going on a trip or spending time with loved ones. If they say they’re going skiing, for example, you can use that information to keep the conversation going. Ask what mountain they are going to or if they’re any good at it. When you run out of follow-up questions, tell them what your plans are for the holiday. But don’t just say, “I’m having dinner with family.”
Excellent small talk requires more than asking intelligent questions. You also have to provide thought-provoking answers. The best answers give specific details without getting overly personal. Instead of “I’m having dinner with family,” you should say, “my brother is having the whole family up to his house in Lagos Island.”
This gives the other person enough information to ask their own set of follow up questions. But what if there aren’t any holidays coming up? Should you throw this conversation starter out the window? Not at all. This one works just as well for weekends, days off, or evenings after work. Any time someone is free to have fun and relax, they’ll want to talk about it.
7. Asking Why 🙋♂️
You won’t always control the subject of a conversation. The other person may start talking first, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You still need to know how to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction. The trick is asking “why.” 🤔
Say someone is telling you about their trip to Nigeria. When they finish their story, you ask, “Did you have fun?” What’s wrong with this question?
It only has two answers: yes or no. Yes or no questions lead to awkward pauses, because they don’t create new roads for the conversation to take. Instead, make sure your questions are open ended. You should ask, “Why did you choose Nigeria?” This question warrants a longer answer and gives you much more information. Using “why” questions will give the conversation a natural flow, while preventing it from fizzling out.
Go ye and make conversations of all nations 😅. Don’t forget to react to this article below 👇👇 as well as drop your comments