How to Make Small Talk With Strangers

Written by Christopher Lewis. Posted in Blog

Talk to strangers and build relationshipsMaking small talk is not rocket science, so keep calm. However, lack of simple communication skills can make things hard for you. Picture a situation where you run out of things to say or a conversation just goes downhill.

I too have had such experiences quite a number of times before I realized it only takes these 3 tips to effectively strike and sustain a meaningful conversation. However, before we go straight to it and understand how to make small talk, let us take a look at why communication skills are so important.

In this day and age, effective communication on any platform requires a skill and an ability to hold small talk. There are quite a number of people who find small talk as unconstructive or even a waste of time. However, they couldn’t be more wrong. The environment of today requires you attend dinners, product launches, family gatherings, networking events, meetings and so on. All these may require you to talk to strangers and although the serious topics are rarely in short supply, what is serious to you may not necessarily be serious to the next person.

3 Conversation Tips That Help You Build Relationships

1. Observation and Awareness

This is the very important. Before you approach a stranger to start a conversation, it’s best to first analyze your environment. Where are you? What is the event about? Who is in attendance? Who is the host? How do you feel? What can you see?  If you answer this questions, you will get an understanding of how it feels to be in this situation. This in turn will help you try to imagine how the stranger’s experience is like.

After you have understood your environment you can then observe the person you want to talk to. Please note that I don’t mean that you stalk them. People don’t like being stared at. However, knowing how to make small talk requires that you also know how to observe and read body language. The key is to smile. Not grin, just smile and most of all relax.

Another reason to observe and understand your environment is that in most cases small talk and especially starting it will revolve around the experience in your immediate environment. Something close to “these cheese cakes are just the best” if for example you are in a pastry shop. If you are at a concert then music would be a good topic to start with.

2. Make Contact

The second step to my how to make small talk tip tank is "just do it." Surprised? Don’t be. Once you have thought about talking to someone in the room or your neighbor on the plane, just start. If you are shy or feel awkward then take a deep breathe, smile walk towards the stranger and just say hi or hello.

Greeting is the best way to start a conversation. Give your name and then ask for theirs. It’s very important you remember that name. It’s a very special feeling when someone remembers your name. You can even repeat in the course of your conversation just for fun.

Here you can also ask your stranger to talk about themselves. Usually asking specific question does the trick but something to note is that too many questions could make you sound like a detective and that can be off putting. The idea is to sound genuinely interested.

Also be warm, and have a relaxed body language. When talking to someone look at them and please put away your iPad or whatever gadget that might look distracting.

3. Listen

This goes for both verbal and non-verbal communication. Generally, when in conversation with someone it’s important they feel that you can hear and understand what they are talking about. This not only tells the other person that you are listening but also gives them a chance to clarify their idea.

Knowing how to make small talk is a skill like any other and requires practice. You should therefore try mingle, network and talk to as many people as possible and with time you will see results.

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