An Introvert’s Guide to Small Talk: Master 5 Powerful Ways to Stay Connected

Amy Christie

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Small talk is a great way to foster natural communication and to improve ideas’ sharing. Simple questions often lead to exciting topics and getting to know more people can bring you closer to your dreams. Unfortunately, it’s precisely small talk that introverts go out of their way to avoid.

No, it’s not superficial and overrated

Feeling a bit awkward is fine too. You don’t need to be a master at it right from the beginning. Talking to new people and building an appropriate level of comfort will take patience and practice. For introverts small talk often comes as a challenge since it’s not the surface talks that move them. They long for in-depth, complex conversations and are seldom interested in discussing everyday issues such as jobs, hobbies, household activities, or chores.

An introvert moves away from small talk because it seems uninteresting, without a personal touch.

The need to reframe small talk

Introverts lean towards intricate discussions and usually get the impression that regular social interaction lacks authenticity and doesn’t bring anything new. At least not the kind of information they can pore over to analyze and find new meanings or principles if they search hard enough.

This is why introverts will move away from small talk in most situations:

  • They don’t feel emotionally connected

The deep intellectual conversations that introverts love to dive into have a specific meaning and bring together people with similar principles or allow them to discuss their arguments for a certain stance. Compared to this, small talk doesn’t seem to bring much into the picture. It's like scratching the surface only, without daring to investigate and go into the deep waters of beliefs and concepts.

  • It separates people

Introverts feel trapped when they are forced to talk exclusively on the topics acceptable for small talk. Jobs, the weather, family issues, or the state of the economy are not their cup of tea. In fact, they are mostly convinced that there is no chance to truly get to know someone as long as you stay on this kind of talk.

  • It makes them feel drained

Not only does it seem fake, but introverts will often refer to small talk as an activity that doesn’t let you vibe or tune in with anyone. They feel exhausted doing it and the first chance they get for an authentic talk they might share too much simply because they miss the connection and the way it feels to discuss something that matters and makes them feel interested.

Can Introverts get better at small talk? Do they need to?

As much as they would like it go away, introverts need to realize small talk is here to stay. Small talk questions and topics are about inspiration, but also practice. Even if it’s not a natural gift, it can still be learned and used when appropriate.

Making friends, starting a new job, getting a pay raise, going to a social event, taking part in training sessions and team activities, and so many other things use small talk as the connecting point. You simply can’t skip it and go on to the next thing. If you don’t connect first there is nothing to build a relationship on. Professional ties, friendship, or romantic relationships all begin from talking about seemingly unimportant topics. Not to mention that making your social circle larger will enable you to hear different ideas, learn about new opportunities, have a support network, and help where you are needed most.

Small talk questions and examples work up to a point, but becoming skilled at it takes more then that.

This is what you can do to make small talk a part of your daily interactions:

1. Share little things about yourself

Remember not to get too deep into it. Keep to sharing facts about your daily life or your experiences. Talking about the interesting places you visited or how you spend your time when you work schedule is done are great points to build on. The other person will feel more comfortable talking to you and will follow your sharing lead.

2. Be genuine

You don’t have to hide who you are for the sake of small talk. Honesty and saying how you feel will make small talk better since people will realize you have plenty to bring on the table to lift the conversation. Don’t be afraid to say what you think, but tweak your words to the situation and the group of people you are around.

For example, it’s ok to admit you would love to travel all the time or that it takes you a lot of energy to get involved in games. It’s fine if you say you are not too comfortable going to parties, even if you are already at one. People don’t want to hear lies and will actually feel the people pleasers and shun them. Be bold, always polite and courteous, and you won’t have a hard time finding the right persons to talk to.

3. Bring stories into the conversation

Small talk can leave plenty of room for stories too. You only need to create the opportunity. As soon as you feel the conversation going too flat for your taste you can shift direction by prompting the other person to tell you a story.

The questions that lead to it can be about travels, the circumstances that made them choose their career path, favorite activities in childhood, or the coolest part of their current job. They all work and will involve the two of you in a focused talk. You will also get to contribute your own stories as you respond to theirs and at the end of the day you will realize that small talk really does pave a way to goals and souls.

4. Remember it’s about your happiness too

The conversation might be brief, but you will certainly benefit from it. Small talk gives a sense of belonging since we are all wired for communication and connecting to other people is the easiest way to accomplish that. Don’t brush away idle chat. Dig into it from time to time and you will feel more dynamic and empowered.

5. Focus on why questions

Don’t just go for information, such as asking someone’s favorite book, learning the answer, and going on to another topic. Expand the idea with a why question and you will help the conversation move at a better pace too. When you inquire about a job make sure to also ask why they started out on this path or what’s the reason they want a specific work schedule. There are so many reasons behind actions and options. It pays to know them and to fuel your talk in a positive direction.

6. Say no to overthinking

While it’s true that introverts tend to complicate things and overanalyze them, small talk is not the right setting for that. Take it as a chance to relax, go with the flow, and don’t try and make people focus too much on any given issue. You can listen in if that’s more comfortable for you and add your ideas when you feel like it.

Don’t worry too much about being silent at the wrong time. The other person will have similar feelings, so just act friendly, smile, and keep an open mind. You will make a good impression by contributing with meaningful comments.

Small talk is not a sacrifice. It’s a step forward to having the right people around you and rediscovering how much it means to stay true to yourself. Your personality will find its way into long or short talks. Fit your words and questions to the circumstances and you will soon reap the benefits small talk can offer.

Don’t give up if it doesn’t work like a charm the first time round. Practice and improve. You can do anything you set your mind to!

Photo by RobinTheHooded / Pixabay.com

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX
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