“I wish I could talk to anyone about anything, I wish I could be charismatic and master small talk. I’m awkward and just can’t find a rhythm with people, I can’t seem to break the ice.”
This was me like 5 years ago. I couldn’t master small talk, talking to people was so hard. I’ve mentioned it a few times that I used to suffer from social anxiety and was awkward and shy. I was a person that really hated small talk. What I really wanted to do was get to the heart of the matter and talk about your dreams, disappointments and hopes. But that’s a little too deep for some people, as a matter of fact it’s too deep for most people, to the point where that kind of talk can be seen as rude and nosy. And it really didn’t help me learn to be charismatic. So being in the business of real estate I learned how to small talk and kind of enjoy it as a way to get to know people on a basic level.
Some of my favorite ice breakers have been:
Ah yes, weather is the most safest thing to talk about. It’s literally the most cliche small talking point but you can never offend anyone with weather. The weather is constantly changing so it’s definitely something to talk about. If it’s too cold and it’s suddenly a nice day, you can comment what a pleasant surprise the weather has been. If it’s unusually windy, you can joke about being blown away. You can expand and talk about how you love this weather or hate this weather and what you like to do during this time of year. Weather is by far the safest, easiest thing to talk about.
In the US there are several major holidays including Christmas, New Years, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. There are also more obscure holidays like Presidents Day, MLK day, Halloween, Mother’s and Fathers Day. Pretty much every month there’s some sort of holiday. You can always ask, “Any plans for ____ holiday?” This is an easy icebreaker for people that want to keep the conversation going at an even pace. “Are you going away, we’re planning to go to _____” “That sounds nice, I had a friend who went there last year and really enjoyed it as a vacation spot!” This will easily make you a master of small talk.
I used to have the assumption that you should only compliment someone if you really mean it. Like really, really liked what someone was wearing or found something interesting. But that’s not really the case. In order to be charismatic, compliments can be a way of forming bonds and sharing an interest. The keys is to find something that you think is interesting about a person, a piece of jewelry, an article of clothing, a physical quality (like eyes, makeup or hair), or a non physical quality that you think stands out. I found that there is always something you can compliment someone on and it helps you to be charismatic. Some of my go to compliments that I found to be most genuine are: “Oh wow, I love that piece of jewelry. Where did you get it?” I’m always looking for a piece of fashion that stands out like a nice purse or shoes and I’ll usually compliment or ask where they got it. As a woman, I think it’s more socially acceptable for me to make these kind of compliments so I’ll do it to break the ice and strike conversation. For men, I try to accept whatever compliments they offer because it’s nice and a genuine effort to make conversation which can be hard for some of them. The type of compliments men should stick with, especially when complimenting the opposite gender, should be a non physical quality or an article of clothing. “That’s a unique pair of shoes, they look comfortable” or “I heard from so and so that you’re really interested in ______, that sounds interesting, how did you get into that?” Giving physical compliments from a man to a woman or even man to man can seem off color or even inappropriate.
4. General Non Political News
You can get creative with this and just talk about the happenings in your town, something you saw on Facebook that you thought was relevant or friendly gossip about what’s going on with family and friends. “Oh I heard so and so got married, I’m so happy for her! It’s been so long since we’ve got to chat!” Or “I heard that there was going to be so and so happening at that restaurant I love, it’s always such a great event!” Or “This reminds me of an article I saw on FB…”
I just want to make a side note since I get a lot of foreign readers from other parts of the world. They might be reading this right now and be like WTF? What’s the point of making pointless conversation? Why do Americans do this?
Well, to be honest, it’s more of a cultural thing. We generally like to bask in positive emotion rather then negative. When speaking with someone you have a very casual relation with we try to keep the conversation light and easy to avoid negative emotion. Imagine an acquaintance asks you, “How’s everything going John?” And you start telling them about your leaky roof and how you can’t find the finances to cover these costs. Well John, you just took the conversation deep left and made the other person uncomfortable because they’re going to realize you’re going through hardship and there is little they can do to help you through it. Negative emotion is easy to catch from other people and it doesn’t feel good.
Some of the most successful people I’ve met have masters of small talk and are able to converse in a way that puts others at ease, feels safe and positive, while at the same time expresses interest in the other person.
I spent so many years not really understanding the rules and use of small talk that I was keeping others from getting close to me in a way they felt comfortable and I was making other people uncomfortable by digging in too much too soon.
I hope this article was a useful introduction on how to be charismatic and how to master your small talk skills. Feel free to like, share and follow, I follow back!
Check out my other posts!
How To Be Charismatic & How To Be More Likable