And interestingly, the people who are really good at it do very little talking. Let me explain.
Roxanne Roberts, social columnist for the "Washington Post", recently wrote about what a valuable skill small talk really is--and she should know, because her job depends on it.
Her number one rule: keep quiet and listen. And by listening, she means really paying attention, facing your partner directly, looking them in the eye, and leaning into the conversation. It's something that will encourage even the most shy person to start sharing.
Roberts says it's important in any social situation to introduce yourself, even if the person might know you. Say something like, "Hi, I'm John. I'm not sure we've met before. I'm a friend of Jane's from the university." It will set people at ease if they remember you, for example, but can't quite recall your name.
Next, keep the topics simple. Successful chit-chat involves asking questions, then really listening, and responding with open-ended questions. "You're going to London! How exciting. I love the shops. Do you have a favorite?"
Resist babbling on about your own experiences. That only brings the conversation back to you. Your goal is to get the other person to open up. Also, don't be greedy. Let the person you're talking with dictate the length of the conversation. By doing so, you'll be greeted warmly by the person the next time you see him, because he'll see you as a pleasant conversationalist not a windbag.
Roberts tells a famous story about two men, and the power of good conversation. Legend has it, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and his political rival William Gladstone had a date with the same woman on different nights. When asked her impression of the two men, she said, "When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England."
Keep that in mind, the next time you're making the rounds at a party.
Here's How to Make Big Decisions Deciding between soup or salad’s a breeze, but what about big decisions, like “Which job… Here's How to Cope With a Few Holiday Issues Family issues that come up during the holidays can drain all the cheer out of what’s supposed … Learn to Charm Anyone We all know someone with charisma. A person who lights up the room when they walk in, and instantly … Master the Art of Living in the Moment Let's talk about not focusing on a goal. Why? Because sometimes, the best way to reduce stress and i… Get the Upper Hand the Next Time you Get in an Argument Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries – sometimes it’s the pits. We argue, fight, a… Increase Your Level of Happiness 2009 has been a rough year for a lot of people with lay-offs, the swine flu, and home foreclosures. … Is It Better to Listen to Talk Radio or Music on Your Commute? You have a tough day ahead at work. So you get in your car and want to gear up mentally and emotiona… Help Your Brain Function Better Are you misusing your brain? If you struggle with decisions, lack willpower or waver over whether or… The Secrets to Love, Financial Security, and Weight Loss We found the ultimate secrets to longevity, a loving marriage, financial security, and weight loss i… If You Try to Make Everything Perfect, YOU May be Keeping Yourself From Happiness If you're always worried about making everything "perfect" you could be keeping yourself from being … It's Easy to Brighten Someone Else's Day It’s easy to brighten someone else’s day! Sometimes people fall on hard times, and writi… Phrases You Should Retire From Your Conversations Here and now, I’ve got a list of popular phrases you should consider retiring from your conver… Get Yourself Out of a Rut How can you tell if you’re in a rut? If you do the same thing day in and day out without any v… Restaurant Manners I have some food for thought the next time you go out to eat, and that’s a lot considering 50 … If You Help Others, Your Own Happiness will Follow Philosopher Aristotle claimed that “Happiness isn’t a psychological state, but a moral o…
BASIC.Premiere Event: Part 1 Email Rage Can Get You Fired Does Heart Disease Run in Your Family? Surprising Causes of Back Pain BASIC.Fellowship Clip 04 with Francis Chan Physical Signs of Depression When you think of depression, you probably think of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness. But depressi… Important Things We Can Learn from Kids How Well Do You Click With Other People? Dancing is Good for Your Brain & Burns GPS Relationship Apps For Singles Now there's an app for that...… Avoid Tattoos & Body Piercings How The Weather Can Affect You Did you know that the wind can actually… "THINK" BEFORE YOU DRINK! Alcohol use among kid and teens is the leading cause of deaths due to car accidents. Kids who drin… Call in SICK on These Days Don't Buy into the "Fairytale of Weight Loss" Want to lose weight and keep it off? Then don't buy into the 'fairytale of weight loss.'…