Small talk happens at a conference, coffee shop, graduation party or wedding. Heck, it could even happen during an interview.
But does the thought of having to talk with someone new make you want to run fast in the other direction? You aren’t alone. Many people, especially introverts, feel this way. But there are things you can do so you don’t dread small talk.
The truth is, you desperately want someone to like you but you are afraid they won’t be and you tend to avoid the situation altogether. Overcome your fears and anxiety and ooze interesting instead.
Here are 10 ways to come across as interesting:
Simply smiling makes you appear friendly and approachable. Think about it. Would you rather talk to someone who is smiling or someone who looks like they are not having a good time?
2. Ask questions to discover a common interest
Instead of worrying about what you’ll say, have a list of easy conversation starters (you can check this list out to help give you ideas). Once you find something you share in common, the conversation will flow! And don’t think you have to focus on work. Often, it is finding things outside of work that warms up a conversation!
3. Follow current events so you have something to talk about
If you are armed with knowledge about local, regional and global current events, it makes it easier to get a conversation going.
4. Wear a conversation piece
Maybe you have a unique tie, scarf, or piece of jewelry. Wear it. Not only will it make you feel confident, people may ask you about it and it gives you something easy to talk about.
5. Make an introduction to someone new
Maybe you have an opportunity to introduce innocent bystanders to one another! If you are standing in a small group, make sure everyone knows each other.
6. Listen more than you speak
The best way to show your interest in someone is to ask thoughtful follow-up questions and you can only do this if you are truly listening. Nod your head and whatever you do, don’t interrupt the person you are speaking with. Listening is difficult for many, but introverts do this very well!
7. Uncross your arms, make eye contact and project energy
Your body language sets the tone. Look people in the eyes when you are speaking and listening. And speak loudly enough so people can hear what you are saying.
8. Be genuine, disclose some personal information
Don’t be afraid to interject personal information. Often, this warms the conversation AND can lead to the discovery of mutual interests. If your child’s team just won a match or you are planning a vacation or trip somewhere, who knows what doors may open.
9. Tell a joke, (tested) funny story, or personal mishap
“A funny thing happened on the way to this event…” or “did you hear the one about…” Not everyone is great at telling jokes, but sometimes, telling a story helps people relate to you better. Just make sure your joke or story is appropriate for the person you are speaking with.
10. Discover their passion
Nothing gets a person more excited than talking about something they are interested in. Their eyes twinkle and they can’t stop talking! They will also be more likely to remember their conversation with you.
DO NOT PLAY WITH YOUR SMART PHONE!
It’s tempting to stand in the corner looking at your smart phone. It feels safe. But that’s not why you are at the event. You are there to meet people. You’re going to need to step out of your comfort zone.
Try on this new persona. It is sort of like being in a play. Get into character. It just might stick!
Ooze Interesting Infographic
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.