5 Ways to Make Small Talk More Meaningful

*The key to making small talk more useful
and less draining is to steer the conversation toward topics that are actually
interesting (the sooner the better)
—something that will fill our battery, not
drain it. So what do introverts like talking about? Ideas, ideas, ideas.

Here are more tips to
survive small talk and turn it into something meaningful:

1.       If you feel anxious about making small talk, remind
yourself that your nervousness is coming from you and your beliefs, not the
situation.
 Ask yourself: what’s
the worse that can happen? If the small talk fails and the other person doesn’t
like me, so what? Also, just because small talk was awkward in the past doesn’t
mean it will be that way again.

2.       Take the spotlight off yourself by asking questions. We introverts tend to
be private and reserved, so we feel uncomfortable disclosing a lot of personal
information right away—at least not until we trust the other person or make a
meaningful connection. Take the pressure off yourself, and get the other person
talking by asking questions about his or her life.

3.        Embellish your responses. Of
course, if you relentlessly bombard the other person with questions, it will
feel like an interrogation. Eventually, you’ll have to answer some questions
yourself. To avoid cutting the conversation short, share more than just
one-word, closed answers. Add some intriguing tidbits to your responses so you
provide “hooks” for the other person to continue the exchange. For example,
when someone asks how you are, instead of replying, “Fine,” say, “Good, thanks.
I jogged on my favorite trail this morning, and I’m feeling great!” Or, “Good,
although with the holidays just around the corner, I’m feeling a little
stressed about all the shopping and food prep I have to do.”

4.       Deepen the conversation with open-ended questions. You’ll actually get to know your
conversation partner, and you might stumble across something meaningful in the
process. Open-ended questions invite the other person to say more than just a few
words. Try things like:

“Are you working on anything exciting lately?”

“What has been the highlight of your week?”

“When you were a kid, what was your dream job? Is any
part of that still true?”

“What are your thoughts on [insert recent issue in the
news lately]?”

5.       Go easy on yourself. Introverts tend to be
introspective souls who think deeply about things. However, this incredible
gift can become a curse when we use it to brood about our mistakes. If a
conversation didn’t go according to plan or ended on an awkward note, be kind
to yourself. Everyone messes up sometimes. Spend a few moments reflecting and
focusing on your takeaway lesson for next time. As author and motivational
speaker Denis Waitley writes, “Failure should be our teacher, not our
undertaker.” You should expect that to accomplish something worthwhile, you’d
have to deal with the occasional blunder.

5 Ways to Make Small Talk More Meaningful

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