Do you dread small talk?

This write-up is for you if, you find building rapport a challenge and avoid networking events unless you know many people there.

Do not fret, most people dislike small talk because it may feel fake and a waste of time. But it does not have to be this way. Remember small talk is just that – light, informal conversation. Talk about what you are sharing in the moment. e.g., how do you know the host? What are you looking forward to today? Would you recommend the drink you are holding?

Here are three ways to get you started –

1. Be curious about other people’s experiences. Ask questions about their lives. People like talking about themselves. Being interested in others can unravel tales of adventure, reflection, advice, and common ground. Use each opportunity to learn something new. Simple expressions like ‘tell me more’ can turn out to be magical phrases.

2. Pay attention to what is being said verbally as well as non-verbally. Listen for what matters to the person talking and ask for more. Show the other person you care about what they are saying by offering reflections to move the conversation forward.

3. Give more than bare-bones when you are asked a question. Give something meaningful to build on. For example, instead of saying, I live in ‘X’ city, you might say, I live in ‘X’ city, and love the artistic events here, or love the multicultural vibe here.  

Finally, take opportunities to engage in small talk more often. After all, everything gets easier with practice. Staying open and curious, asking a lot of questions, being a good listener, and not putting too much pressure on yourself will help you through the situation quite well and you may even learn to like striking conversations with people new to you.