Having to make small talk with a stranger is one of those scenarios we’ve all come to dread. But it is these types of conversations that lead to more deep and meaningful ones. If you learn how to properly present yourself and become a good conversationalist, there is no doubt you’d be able to make small talk with just about anyone. Here are 5 tips to make small talk with anyone a less painful experience.
1. Compliment them
Making a stranger feel good about themselves right off the bat will basically guarantee their attraction towards you. This is simple to do. Notice something you genuinely like about them and gladly let them know. You could even tie it to a follow-up question by saying something like “I love your dress! Where did you get it?” This leaves room for the conversation to grow and will start your interaction on the right track.
2. Ask them for help
Asking someone for help can make them feel helpful. The person might be a little shy as well and would be glad to have someone to interact with. However, don’t burden them with something too inconvenient. A simple “Do you know where the meeting will take place?” or “Would you happen to have a spare pen?” will often do the trick.
3. Bring up something you have in common
This might be hard to do if the person you’re talking to is a complete stranger but it is possible. The fact that you are in the same event or space as them already gives you common ground. Even commenting on something as redundant as the weather is a good starting point to get you talking about a topic you can both understand.
4. Ask an open-ended question
The scariest thing about small talk is that little awkward silence that follows when two people run out of things to say. To avoid this, make an effort to keep the conversation going. You can do this by asking open-ended question instead of yes-or-no ones. Questions that are more open and subjective allow for conversational topics that you can expand upon. For example, instead of asking someone “Where did you go to college”, ask “How did you like your college years?”
This is the simplest and most important rule to follow when talking to anyone. You want to come across as someone who is approachable and charismatic. People feel more comfortable around you when they can sense that you are in a good mood. Smiling will help keep the atmosphere calm and will steer the conversation into a positive direction. It is also a good idea to control your body language as a whole. Don’t keep your arms crossed. Maintain eye contact with them. And don’t keep glancing at your phone. People will appreciate you for your attention and have a pleasant memory of the conversation.