How To Handle Small Talk
Do you dread small talk at networking events or functions?
Do you struggle with what to talk about to someone you’ve just met?
Do you find yourself talking too much to avoid those awkward silences?
First of all, take a few deep breaths and exhale slowly to help relax yourself. Then listen. With the intention of learning something about that person.
Listen to what they’re saying and if there’s a pattern to their conversation. Is it people focused? Place focused? Detail focused? Do they tend to talk about activities or just things in general?
Once you’ve established this, then shift the conversation, through your questions, in that direction.
If the person talks about places they visited on a recent holiday, then ask or talk about those places. If they talk about people they met on a trip, then make the conversation people focused. If they refer to “interesting” facts, then ask for more detail.
Don’t fret over those moments of silence. Use it as an opportunity to digest what the person has said rather than mentally planning what you’re going to say next. This only distracts you from fully engaging with the person you are talking to.
Once you’ve got the conversation flowing, you are building rapport with that person, making the conversation easier, productive, even enjoyable.