Small talk (also known as chit chat) is conversation that is strictly kept light between people who really do not know each other well enough to engage in more “heavier” topics.
Such is the case of those individuals who suffer from a condition called Social Anxiety Disorder (or SAD for short). This type of disorder can make small talk an extremely anxiety producing action. Although there are different methods to extinguish or lessen this form of anxiety, a good method is to prepare for topics that are most likely to come up during normal small talk. You have to do a little homework, which in turn, will help boost your confidence level.
Among the topics that can easily be used and thought out for small talk may include:
1. Weather – as simple as “Today really is a beautiful day, is it not?”
2. The NEWS – “Gee, did you hear about…?”
3. Sports – How about those (insert favorite team)…!
4. Travel – “ I need a vacation to somewhere”
5. Work – “I just heard that…”
The main things to remember in preparing for small talk are finding out what and where other people enjoy chatting. An example would be the water cooler in offices, always known as a place of congregation. Be engaging to the small talk at hand. No one likes it when only one person is doing the talking, so there must be a balance kept in the amount of talking done and of listening. It maintains equilibrium.
No matter how shy or introverted you may be, before attempting to create some small talk among people, one should make sure that the people you are trying to chat with have some interest in that topic before talking too much about it. An uninteresting topic will rarely lead to lengthy conversation, so try to stick to upbeat subjects, as these will perform much better.
Although it is not always easy for shy people to make new acquaintances, let alone new friends, there are methods to make it easier to deal with. First and foremost is to be yourself, to act natural and with a certain confidence, which should include a fair amount of body language used. Be engaging when meeting new possible friends and especially try new things even if they make you a bit uncomfortable to do. Smile and engage in talk!
In all verbal communication, there is the “risk” of those dreaded moments of silence. That part of your dialog where your brain shuts down, your mind goes completely blank, and you can not think of a single word to say, let alone, have a conversation. While this silence may be brief, only lasting a few seconds, it will seem like it is the longest few seconds of your entire life! Our minds are engineered to fill in the blanks when confronted as such and so we try to come up with all sorts of things to say to fill those lapses of silence. We try to quickly come up with interesting subject matter in that particular moment of time, usually be trying to be quick witted or funny (or changing the subject entirely).
Unfortunately, in all too often the situation, in order to avoid any gap in the conversation, we quickly try to fill that silence with whatever words pop into our head! There is actually a lot of random thought in this silence as it disorients us, causing our minds to speed up, while we are anxiously wondering what the other person is thinking.
A good start for making small talk is by asking what is known as “open ended questions.” Open ended questions require a complete answer by using that individual’s personal knowledge of a subject, or opinion, and is objective.
. How was work today?
. Watch anything good on tv?
. Why did you do that?
That is really all that it takes to begin small talk, which, if done right, might alleviate shyness, increase your confidence level, may lead to friendship, and longer, more meaningful conversation.