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How to Engage Someone in Small Talk

Listen to this week's episode below:

This episode focuses on social settings and how to effectively interact with people socially, and in a way that allows you to become a master of small talk while exuding confidence. You’ll learn about the benefits of small talk, how to smoothly start conversations and keep them going.

(01:23) Many people hate meeting people: small talk, walking into the room, dealing with others. Many people pull their phones out nowadays to appear busy.

(02:20) Arel didn't get this for so long. He'd have anxiety built up, scan the room for familiar faces to talk and cling to them, hoping to be introduced to someone cool. He was nervous and hated it. He felt people judged him.

(03:20) Arel wanted to build up those skills to know what to do, slide into a conversation and discuss. If you can walk into any business event, conference, social network event, birthday party, wedding, etc. As long as you can walk in and know you'll always rock it, it changes the experience. It also changes your ability to interact with people. Become more socially affluent and build relationships that may benefit your life in business, dating, everything. There are many benefits.

(04:30) We're all in the same boat. Almost everyone feel the same social anxiety as you, they're just better at faking. You're not alone, but there are strategies that can help you become more socially skilled.

(05:15) Have an interesting story. In every conversation, people will ask, "How are you? How do you do? What's new?" Most people aren't original and won't ask those "different" engaging questions. They ask, "What do you do? What's new? How are you feeling? What's up?"

(06:00) Look at your life and ask yourself about something new or exciting that's generally accepted. Anything socially popular, for example, the NBA or NHL finals. Start with a story about why you like (or hate) LeBron James.

(07:25) For example, in a social situation: "Hey Arel, how are you?" "I'm great, I'm really happy, the Cavs made it to the finals. I'm a big LeBron fan and I'm excited about basketball. I always wanted to play basketball when I was in high school, I never made the team, but was always a fan of the sport and of hard work."

(08:00) The important part of the story: Arel mentioned a bunch of things in that story that will allow people to follow-up and ask questions. He mentioned that he wanted to make the team in high school, which might open the door for someone to ask what he played instead. It also might open up discussion about the Cavs or LeBron James, whether they love or hate LeBron. There are many possible doors.

(09:00) It's a quick story about he didn't make the team but loved the sport and work ethic. If something seems geeky, say, "I know it sounds geeky but that's my thing." Most people can relate to anything that's geeky. Even if they aren't geeky about that thing, they can relate to being geeky about something. It lets people know you're human and gives you permission to talk about almost anything you want. Make it generally understood.

(10:35) Another example about how Arel was stuck at 11,000 words, found a new technique, and even though it was geeky, he was excited about it. Someone could ask about the technique or what he was writing about. People have the opportunity to ask you questions, and they become the star. After they ask you, you can put it back on them, and ask them if they write, for instance. It opens the door.

(11:30) Get clear on that story you can tell in your answer to, "How are you doing?" It creates multiple footholds for people to ask you questions about more clarity and detail. You can then put it back onto them.

(11:50) Example: pocket kangaroos. (Everyone's nervous in a new situation, and if you can toss them a bone, you're helping them out, too.) "This is really geeky, and I'm really into dogs. I just found out about sugar gliders. Do you know what they are? They're marsupials, like kangaroo housepets. You could show a picture of it, break it down, and explain it to get the conversation going.

(13:30) You could start a discussion about dogs, whether they love or hate them. Because you created that generally-accepted story, that's somewhat geeky and creates footholds for people to ask questions, it's easy to for people to talk to you.

(14:10) Don't talk about politics or religion. That's not the best way to start a conversation. You could ruin a relationship because your views might differ too much. Stories about sports or activities you've recently taken are great starting points.

(15:00) Another example: fidget spinners. Tell a story about how you say a fidget spinner at a gas station, thought it was stupid, and now you have one for every member of your family. You thought it was geeky but became really excited about it.

Think of an story to use in social situations that's evergreen or is true for you right now. The implementation is what matters, not just hearing it, so you'll become a socially affluent rockstar the next place you go.

You are awesome. Thanks for listening, and please subscribe to our podcast, The Art of Likability.

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