Interviews… Networking events… First day on the job. What do all of these things have in common? Probably a few things, but one thing they all share is the necessity of engaging in some small talk. Some people thrive at this sort of thing and can seem to whip up a conversation out of thin air, but others of us struggle. Perhaps we worry too much about saying the wrong thing or are just too nervous, but we can’t seem to come up with anything decent to talk about.
Small talk is a great way to break the ice in any situation and can make all parties more comfortable. This is one of those skills that everyone can always improve. Everyone is uncomfortable meeting new people for the first time and it’s always a relief if you can strike up a conversation with someone. Practice wherever you can; with the cashier at the grocery store, someone in line next to you at the bank, etc. Focus on neutral/safe topics such as the weather, things you have in common or you can even ask a question, e.g. “How long have you worked here?” or “How did you hear about this event?” You will always want to avoid things like politics, religion or questionable jokes. Remember, what is funny to you may not be funny (and could be controversial) to someone else.
So, get out there and start talking. It’s actually easier than you think and you will gain the confidence to talk to someone when it really counts.