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.
Tips for Being the Life of the Party Summer time get-togethers are all the rage. Whether it’s a bridal shower, block party or a com… Learn to Make Small Talk Imagine you’re all alone at a party. What would you do? If you’d rather lock yourself in… It Might Be Time to Let These Friends Go Good friends last a lifetime, but others come and go - and that’s OK. Some friendships become … Make a Great First Impression Whether you’re trying to wow a prospective boss, your future in-laws or a crowd of party-goers… Are You a Big Complainer? Well it’s time to get over yourself! Granted – sometimes we have legitimate reasons to c… Remember that old saying, "You're not getting older, you're just getting better?" Well, it seems to be true. Conventional wisdom says that your personality is set by the time you're … Holding a grudge does more than make you miserable. It can kill you! Researchers at Hope College found that simply IMAGINING getting revenge on someone … Want to Live a Stress-Free Life? No, it’s NOT impossible. Unfortunately, stress has become so ingrained in our lives that most … Tackle Your Resolutions So have you resolved to lose 20 pounds – quit smoking – or improve your mind in 2008? We… Guidelines for Doing the Right Thing We face ethical dilemmas every day, like whether or not to give back the extra change the cashier ga… Fantasizing About Your Goals Could Make it Harder to Achieve Them You’ve probably heard people say that the best way to achieve something in life is to first im… Do you criticize yourself about something you’re not happy with, or a mistake you made? We’re our own harshest criti But if that sounds familiar, you’re making yourself miserable and setting up roadblocks in you… Add Years to Your Life Want to add years to your life? You can, simply by following these tips from Psychology Today: First… We all know that money can't buy love--Still, a lot of people think money can buy happiness. But that's just not true, according to all kinds of research written up in Marie Claire magazine: A … Don't Do Too Much Too Soon if You Want to Achieve Your Goals Here are six words that’ll help you achieve your goals: Don’t do too much too soon! If y…
Try These Police Negotiation Tactics on Lose Those Love Handles Answers to Common Germ Questions You can limit your exposure to germs and help prevent sickness by doing things like holding your b… The Psychology of Driving Why do we buy the cars we buy?… Surprising Causes of Back Pain GPS Relationship Apps For Singles Now there's an app for that...… Troubling Trend: "Over-Prescribing" Drugs To Children More than 1 in 4 children tale psychiatric drugs each day… Good Signs at an Interview Taking Painkillers at Work Can Cost You BASIC.Communion Clip 03 with Francis Chan Don't Worry, Be Happy You control how happy you are. The choices we make account for more than half of our happiness. Lear… 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.'… Email Rage Can Get You Fired Email Rage is a knee-jerk reaction to an insult that could hurt a friendship or even get you fired.… Simple Relationship Improvements Cigars Are TWICE As Bad As Cigarettes!