Struggle To Make Small Talk?

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Struggle To Make Small Talk?

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Small talk can be a big problem. I want to be friendly and polite, but I just can’t think of a thing to say. Here are some strategies I try when my mind is a blank:

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1. Comment on a topic common to both of you at the moment: the food the room the occasion the weather (yes, talking about the weather is a cliche, but it works)

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2. Comment on a topic of general interest. A friend scans Google News right before he goes anywhere where he needs to make small talk.

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3. Ask a question that people can answer as they please. It’s useful because it allows people to choose their focus (work, volunteer, family, hobby).

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4. Ask open questions that can’t be answered with a single word.

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5. If you do ask a question that can be answered in a single word, instead of just supplying your own information in response, ask a follow-up question.

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6. Ask getting-to-know-you questions. These questions often reveal a hidden passion, which can make for great conversation.

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7. React to what a person says in the spirit in which that comment was offered. If he makes a joke, even if it’s not very funny, try to laugh. If she offers some surprising information, react with surprise.

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8. Be slightly inappropriate. (I can’t use this strategy, myself, because I don’t have the necessary gumption).

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9. Follow someone’s conversational lead. If someone obviously drops in a reference to a subject, pick up on that thread. 

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10. Along the same lines, counter-intuitively, don’t try to talk about your favorite topic, because you’ll be tempted to talk too much.  Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah!

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