- What is small talk?
- Why is it important?
- What is its purpose?
- When do you make small talk?
- With whom do you do it?
- What do you talk about?
- What topics should you avoid?
Part 3 in this series aims to answer another important question.
How do you make small talk?
- Body language. Use your body language to make your conversation partner feel comfortable. Keep a socially acceptable distance from the person, make eye contact, and smile.
- Small casual greeting. Start by greeting the person. It could be something simple like, “Hello” or “Are you in line?” or “Is this where you buy tickets?”
- Small compliment. Give the person a small compliment. You could say “I love your earrings, where did you get them?” or “That’s a great jacket, I love that color!” Americans like praise, so the person will likely respond favorably.
- Comment on the surroundings. Notice the environment and make comment on what you see happening around you. You could say, “Wow! It’s really busy here for a Monday morning!” or “I’m so excited to try the food here, my coworkers keep telling me how great it is.” or “What a great party! It looks like people are starting to dance.”
- Keep things light and positive. Sometimes people complain as a way to bond, but even complaining should be light and have a positive spin. “It’s been a tough week at work, I’m so glad it’s Friday!”
- Disclose something about yourself. Make sure it’s not too personal, and that it is embedded in the context of the situation. “It hasn’t rained this hard in a long time! I guess my daughter’s soccer game will be cancelled this afternoon.” or “This line is moving so slow. I’m starting a new job today and I don’t want to be late for work!”
- Follow with a question or statement. It’s important to listen to what the person says so you can reply with an appropriate question or statement. For example, if the person says, “My legs are so sore! I had a really tough workout yesterday” You could follow with a question, “What kind of exercise do you do?” or “I really need to exercise more!”
- Say goodbye. Eventually the conversation must end. Politely end by saying “I need to get going, it was nice to meet you.” or “It was great talking to you, goodbye!”
Now you know how to make small talk! Want to know more? If you are in the Taipei area, join the Language Boat meet up event to discuss and practice small talk on Sunday, November 10th. Click here for details and to RSVP.
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- American Small Talk (Part 1) | What Is It & What Is The Purpose? (languageboat.com)
- American Small Talk (Part 2) | When & What To Talk About? (languageboat.com)