How to talk to anyone about anything

Very often, people who avoid small talk imagine that everyone else is a sparkling conversationalist.  Everyone else is not sparkling, they’re just connecting, and so can you.

Here are 10 secrets to talking to anyone about anything :

1. Silence Your Inner Critic

Silence thoughts like “she probably think I’m a jerk!” or “he must think I’m stupid!”.  Such harsh self-criticism is the most common obstacle to successful small talk.  Tell yourself there is nothing to lose – now you can relax and not fear judgement.

2. Begin with the obvious

Your neighbour recently had a child.  Ask her how she is enjoying motherhood.  You don’t have to be clever.  Just show you’d like to talk by commenting on the person’s interests or whatever it is you have in common.

If the person gives only grudging one-word responses, take the hint.  It means he or she just wants to be left alone.

3. Compliment carefully

Almost no one is ever tired or bored with sincere compliments and praises.  If you follow up with any easy-to-answer question – I love your daughter’s costume, where did you find it?” – even the most modest person will appreciate the attention as long as it is sincere.

Avoid potentially troublesome areas such as a person’s physical appearance.  Your moment, however well-intended, may sting and worse, there’s usually no appropriate comeback.  Instead, just say the person look terrific and leave it at that.

4. Use friendly body language

A quick way to end a conversation before it even start is to fold your arms, dart your eyes and lock your face into a grim expression.  Whether you mean to or not, you appear uninterested and aloof.  Instead, make eye contact, keep an open posture and smile.  I f you send out friendly messages, you get back friendly messages.

5. Turn the spotlight on others

Ask questions.  Discover the person’s interests.  If you don’t understand what he or she is talking about, say so.  People are usually so flattered by your interest they don’t notice if your questions aren’t brilliant.

6. Listen

Listen closely for a nugget to explore.  Even boring people have a passion that you can learn from.

7. Keep it light

Avoid deep discussions on religion, personal illnesses, money and martial problems.  Voice your opinion, yet avoid “I’m right, you’re wrong” statements.  Agree to disagree when it gets intense.

8. Give equal time

You’re at a dinner party and have spoken with the man on your left for ten minutes.   You owe the women on your right equal time.  We have all been in that uncomfortable situation of being ignored, even if you want to continue talking to someone, you have to be considerate to the other person beside you.

9. Have a sense of Humour

Even the most gracious, considerate people sometime make stupid or offensive remarks.  If you’re the object of such “humour”, shrug it off. The person is probably not mean, just unaware.

10. Make your exit, graciously

If you need to move on without being insulting to the person in front of you, simply excuse yourself using a lull, saying you need a drink or want to say hello to someone else.