Conversation tips for people to do well in small talk

30 Dec 2019

Anybody can have a good talk with a stranger without having a pre-prepared topic at hand.

A good conversationalist does not necessarily need to be someone confident or has many exciting life experiences.

Anybody can have a good talk with a stranger without having a pre-prepared topic at hand. A good conversation comes naturally and a genuine interest to know each other or the agenda.

If you feel small talk and networking makes you nervous because you are not sure what to say, here are some tips to jump-start a conversation.

Listen and ask questions

We know ourselves the best, and the best way to know someone is to ask about them.

You can start with a general topic and let the person talk about themselves while injecting in some follow-up questions to turn it into a dialogue.

You can contribute your anecdotes or suggestions, or even delve into in-depth topics when you both feel comfortable.

Sometimes, some people might not be interested in talking for various reasons. You can observe their body language or check-in on their willingness to talk by asking how they are.

Be aware of cultural norms

In a multi-cultural society like Singapore, we have many chances of meeting people from different countries and backgrounds.

Some may ask your family and personal life even though you are strangers, while others might ask about your career.

However, it is essential to note that such questions, as harmless as they may sound like, can be culturally unacceptable for other nationalities.

For example, asking a stranger about his profession might make him feel uncomfortable as a career is tied to social status.  

As a general rule, you can stick to topics such as sports, entertainment, or current affairs.

Be honest

Sometimes, a conversation can end up getting stuck and unable to continue as both parties have nothing to say.

This might be due to them not being honest - but not because they are both liars.

As two strangers meeting for the first time may be challenging to get warmed up quickly, they might not feel comfortable talking straight away and reveal what they think.

To break this barrier, you can take the lead with honesty and share your real thoughts on the events. You do not need to give positive remarks on the conversation topic to engage a person. Opposing views can sometimes lead to a livelier talk.

And when you are telling your real sentiments, you will feel more authentic and may allow the person to warm up to you faster. 



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