As an introvert there is one thing I absolutely hate, small talk.
BUT, I realized that I can’t avoid it if I really want to reach outside my comfort zone as a shy person. To be honest, you can’t have a conversation really without actually engaging in some small talk.
That small talk will eventually lead somewhere given time.
But I try to do an advanced small talk – where you start to probe even deeper if you’re actually intending to maintain the conversation
So here are three “advanced” ways to actually move the conversation into something much more engaging.
1) Start With the Person.
A question about something very general probably won’t be as effective.
Start with the person. Every loves talking about themselves – we’re all kind of inherently narcissistic creatures aren’t we?
Ask something like,
“Hey that’s an awesome shirt, where did you get it?”
“I like your earrings, they remind me of when I…”
Or, “Do you work at…I noticed that your shirt…”
And ensure that this is all in context of an environment where people are actuallywilling to talk to you. Obviously you can’t talk to people in the wee hours in the morning commuting to work when everyone is barely waking up.
When wanting to meet someone, catch their vibe first.
Are they already comfortable? Are they making sounds,
talking a little bit already, responding to others when asked to move so they could take a seat, asking questions, talking with their
friend very loudly and not ashamed of the environment around them, etc. You can gauge when a person is willing to talk.
Or, if you already know the person a little bit,
“How’s your kid?”
“How’s your dog?”
“Your family doing alright?”
“How was your trip?”
Then dig even deeper with deeper questions.
“How did you enjoy that family trip personally?
“I was planning to go there one day but I wasn’t sure if it was worth it.”
“Dude, I wish I had your dog, I was thinking of getting a ____ once but I wasn’t sure if they were hard to take care of…”
2) The Second is to LISTEN.
Your entire GOAL here is to get to a point where you are asking genuine questions
about someone. As a matter of fact, before a conversation, make it a goal perhaps to get to know something entirely new about this person.
If there is one thing I learned from improv class I took not too long ago – it’s that each one of us has an interesting story regardless of how boring it may seem to us.
Our experience of life is dull, but when we take a look at others’ lives, we find a sense of excitement that we don’t find in our own since no two people are alike…no one!
Okay maybe some.
3) Lastly, Relax and Just Be PRESENT.
You know why you suck at talking to people? It’s because your mind is going 100 miles per second on subjects and anxieties totally irrelevant to the conversation.
You’re probably thinking about whether this person thinks you’re stupid after
saying something you thought was dumb to you, but to them, this is just any ordinary conversation.
People are much more forgiving than you think. Most folks will not hate you after one conversation. Sure, they’ll have their initial opinions, but if they’re level headed human beings (which most of the time they are), they won’t judge you in that moment.
EVEN IF you know this person to be judgmental – would you really allow ONE person to shape how your day will turn out or how you conduct the rest of your life? Never let others take over your head like that, NEVER!
Okay back on track…
You may think of the next thing to say, which doesn’t make sense because if you just throw the person off-guard with something else unrelated to what you askedthem then…wow…that’s just weird. You weirdo. Just kidding.
I’ve had situations where I would be so anxious in a conversation that I would sweat and have to cover my head because of the obvious sweat drops about to slowly drip down my face.
If that’s not anxiety, I don’t know what is.
FOCUS on the PERSON. LISTEN and respond accordingly. Be PRESENT and in the MOMENT with who you’re talking to.
Follow these steps and you won’t break out into sweat.
Insane Introvert, out.