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13 ways you can get better at small talk

Getty ImagesIn an article for Wired magazine, Kristen Berman and behavioral economist Dan Ariely shared their experiences of hosting dinner parties. They had an important rule: "Absolutely no small talk."

Apparently the guests were much happier with it - and that's why the authors state in the headline: "Small talk should be banned."

Whether that sounds like a great idea or a terrifying prospect to you, the fact is that most organizers are very likely not going to ban small talk. - so you'd better get good at it.

To help you out, we searched Quora, Reddit and other sources and put together the best tips for you to improve your small talk skills. You can even make it a habit and practice on strangers who you will probably never see again anyway.

There's also a study that suggests chatting to other commuters on the way to work makes people happier.

Here we give you the best tips and show you how you can impress new acquaintances - and yourself - with your perfect small talk skills.

Show interest in your interlocutor

Several Quora users said the best way to keep a conversation alive is to show that you are genuinely interested in what the other is saying.

"If you essentially don't like the person you are talking to, that will show and that could be one of the main reasons why you are running out of topics of conversation," writes Kai Peter Chang.

This also means that you let your interlocutor tell details from his life.

“Let the other talk more,” writes Anam Gulraiz. "People LOVE to talk about themselves."

Asks open-ended questions

Yes / no questions only lead to dead ends. Instead, encourage the person you are speaking to to tell more about themselves.

In general, open-ended questions tend to lead to more talkative ways, ”says Craig Weiland.

Instead of asking another party guest, "Are you here with your family?", You can ask, for example, "How did you get to know the host?"

Allow the person you are speaking to to teach you something

"If there is a topic that you are not familiar with, just be honest and in nine out of ten cases the other person will teach you something about it," writes Michael Wong.

This also leads back to the central thesis that one should let other people speak most of the time. If you ask someone to explain something, they will likely speak for the next few minutes.

Flickr / Elvert Barnes

Read the news

In the days leading up to a social event, take the time to read the news, "including the pages you don't really care about," writes Mark Simchock.

That way, if the conversation comes to an abrupt halt, you can fill the silence with "Hey, did you hear about ...?"

Share anecdotes

Do not hesitate to show the person you are talking to that you understand what he is saying, says Ellen Vrana. “That creates a connection,” she says.

For example, if the person you are talking to says that they lived abroad for a while and you did too, tell a story or two about your experiences abroad. This will very likely lead to the other person telling similar stories as well.

Practice the FORM technique

Robert Adams uses a special reminder to keep conversations alive, FORM:

  • F.amily “: Do you have children? Where does your family come from? Since when do you live here?
  • Occupation “: What do you do for a living? How is that? Always been a circus acrobat?
  • R.ecreation “: What do you do in your free time? How long have you been playing soccer?
  • M.oney “: What happened to gasoline prices? Has anyone you know recently lost their job?

Be honest

“There's nothing wrong with just saying, 'You know, I hate small talk, so how about we talk about something big,'” writes Derek Scruggs.

The likelihood is high that the person you are talking to will be relieved.

Scruggs recommends having a few “big” questions on hand, such as “What is something that scared you today?” And “Are you happy with your current lifestyle?”

Imitates good speakers

"Listen to comedians or talk show hosts, listen to real people," recommends Edahn Small.

Try to remember what kind of questions they are asking, how they react to the answers, and even how they use silence. Chances are they learned these things the same way.

Increases the self-esteem of the person you are talking to

Flatter people to capture their interest and keep it, recommends Joe Goebel. "Try to make everyone feel a little better after talking to you," he writes.

Practice with everyone you meet

Regardless of whether it's the doorman at work or other passengers on the train, try to practice small talk with everyone, says Rohan Sinha.

At some point, you will find it easier to start a conversation with someone and keep it interesting.

Uses the ARE format

Andrian Iliopoulos uses a method developed by communications expert Carol Fleming, ARE:

  • "Anchor": Find something that you two have in common right now. For example: "This cocktail is really unusual - what's in it?"
  • "Reveal": Shares something personal. For example: "I tried a similar cocktail in a bar in Malibu last year and it knocked me off my stool."
  • "Encourage": Get them to tell something personal too. For example: “I can tell you hate cocktails. You much prefer to drink whiskey, don't you? "

Asks a question that is a better version of "What are you doing?"

In a blog post, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin suggests asking people you meet, "What are you thinking about right now?"

Rubin writes, "It's useful because it allows people to choose what to focus on (work, volunteering, family, hobby) - that is the inescapable question (inevitable in New York City at least)," What are you doing ? "Preferable."

Realize that others are feeling weird too

"You're not the only ones who feel awkward or shy," writes TammyTangerine on Reddit. "Other people have to struggle with it too and these feelings are totally fine and you have nothing to be ashamed of."

She adds that even people who look totally confident may struggle with the same self-doubt that you do.