People who are good at small talk always avoid these 7 mistakes
1. Assuming that nobody wants to talk to you
If you’re shy, I get it. But you’re not the only one. If you’re fretting about seeming confident or “natural,” you’re missing the point: Stop thinking about yourself. Instead, think of reaching out as an act of service.
2. Interrupting or intruding upon an existing conversation
Timing is everything. If you see two or more people vigorously engaged in conversation, they’re probably not ready for you to barge in.
First, wait for a lull. Then once you have someone’s attention and, ideally, receive a non-verbal go-ahead, that’s your chance.
3. Start talking without having something to say
If someone appears distant or lost in thought, moving into their personal space and mumbling “hey” is hardly an icebreaker.
Try asking permission (e.g., “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you something?”) and make sure you have a fully formed question or comment in mind (e.g., “Are you having a good time?” ).
It’s all about creating a comfortable opportunity for the other person to respond.
4. Broaching controversial topics
If you’re talking to someone new, it’s generally best not to talk about weighty, off-putting or polarizing topics.
For starters, aim for something simple and close at hand that you and the other person can observe together. Maybe it’s the music you’re both hearing, or the food you’re both tasting.
5. Being hard to follow
Once you’ve made a connection with each other, keep that connection going by making yourself easy to understand.
If you speak different languages, for example, slow your speech and enunciate clearly. If they ask you what you do for work, answer in a way that doesn’t take five minutes or deploy a lot of workplace jargon.
6. Talking too much about yourself — or about the other person
It’s often said that people love to talk about themselves, and that asking questions is the secret ingredient to good conversations. But that’s not true for everyone.
Nobody likes to feel interrogated, so if you sense that questions aren’t welcome, back off.
7. Wasting someone’s time
If you’re talking to someone, talk to them. Don’t stare at the floor or look over their shoulder at another person. Put your phone away. Be present and give them your full attention.