Tips On Making Small Talk

The art of small talk can be boiled down to one simple piece of advice—ask the other person questions. Of course things are more complex than that, but by actively engaging the other person small talk will be much easier and more sincere.

First make sure you are covering the following three criteria—be authentic, make a sincere connection, choose a topic that gives a taste of who you are. But how does one accomplish this?

Avoid “news update” topics such as weather, sports and traffic.

Be aware of your surroundings. If you are in someone else’s space. Choose a unique object in the room to ask questions about. It could be a family photo or an unusual decoration. It is ok to share personal news as well, but make sure it is something that actually happened. The point is to be sincere. Invented niceties might momentarily fill the silence but won’t add up to a conversation.

Don’t be afraid to speak first.

Make eye contact and be aware of your facial expressions and body language. As in all conversations what your body says can be more revealing than what your mouth speaks.
Finally, just go for it. If you are authentic and speak with purpose you might find yourself in the middle of an interesting conversation.

How to Ask For Advice

Asking for and actually getting good advice is more of a science than one might think. They way one begins the conversation is important. Keep the tone as positive as possible. Something simple and direct—I’d love you advice—will do the trick.

One should immediately identify the kind of advice they are seeking and after their opening line address the topic in the form of a question. Come to the conversation prepared with questions and specific details. Make sure you clearly define the problem. Stay on topic so you aren’t wasting someone’s time with a wandering conversation.

Additionally, take time to consider who is the right person to ask for advice from. People often go to friends or family members for advice because they are comfortable speaking to them. However, that doesn’t make that person the right one to ask. You need someone with knowledge and experience with whatever it is you are dealing with.

Don’t ask too many people. You can’t follow everyone’s advice and there are diminishing returns with too many opinions to analyze.

Don’t ask for advice if what you are seeking is validation or praise. If one has no intention of seriously considering another’s opinion, don’t waste anyone’s time.