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Our world is finally opening up after a year and a half of staying at home and avoiding others. It's time to get back out there and finally interact with other human beings! But with venturing out in public, while a welcoming activity for most of us, brings on a certain amount of stress when it comes to one aspect of leaving your home....
Engaging in small talk can be stressful to some in the best of times but now, after keeping to ourselves for SO long, many of us have simply forgotten the fine art of chit chatting, making small talk an even more daunting task than ever before. That being said, small talk is not going away and actually is a more important component of communication than most people think.
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“While it often gets a bad rap, small talk is an important step into more meaningful conversation, which is essential to building relationships whether in business or in your personal life,” says Dr. Ivan Misner, one of the world’s leading experts in business and career networking who has been called “The Father of Modern Networking” by CNN.
“The yearlong lockdown has many once-outgoing people coming down with locubrevisphobia, which is a big word meaning fear of making small talk, which often results in the sufferer avoiding social and networking events,” adds Dr. Misner.
But there are ways we can break the ice with breaking the ice. Dr. Misner has some tips on how to refresh your small talk skills so it won't feel so awkward once you get out there in the real world. Tips such as:
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* Spend some time reacquainting yourself with pop culture and current events. A weird news or celebrity-related story can be a great ice breaker.
* Ask questions. This sounds simple because it is. A great way to get people to talk is to ask a few “feeder” questions that will help you learn what the other person is interested in. Simply hone in on that subject. You don’t have to know anything about the topic to converse about the topic. You just have to know enough to ask the questions.
* Talk about family. If the person you’re talking to has children, keep a funny or heartwarming story about your own child at the ready. Parenting is a great way to form bonds with new people. You can also do the same with pets!
* Don’t ask “How was your pandemic?” This can be an emotional and loaded question for most people. Do acknowledge how crazy the year has been and feel free to share one silver lining that you have experienced.
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And once you use these tips, you'll be back at engaging in small talk in no time. You may still not enjoy it, but at least you'll confidently be able to do it!
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Ivan Misner, PhD, is the Founder of BNI.com, the world’s largest networking organization with more than 275,000 global members. Misner, who is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, has been interviewed by NBC’s Today Show, MSNBC’s Your Business, Fox Business, Forbes, Fortune and many more.