6. Do not overshare.
Too much information is never a good thing, says Samantha. Understand the difference between being authentic and oversharing. Being genuine means you don’t pretend to be someone else to make people like you, but oversharing your personal information might not be the best way to do it, especially when you are around people you barely know.
Make sure you keep your personal information private. Although you may share your future goals and plans, there is no need to go too deep into the details. Samantha suggests “No complaining and no oversharing. They don’t need to know about your money problems or that rash in an embarrassing spot.”
7. Don’t shy away from healthy debates.
Engaging in a debate, in a healthy and positive manner, is a great way to get to know someone and create an instant connection. It shows who you are and what you believe in, but it also depicts that you are capable of listening to different viewpoints and respect others’ opinions.
But Samantha warns “know thyself and pay attention to the other person. If you have a tendency of offending people, you may want to avoid controversial conversations, no matter how interesting or potentially productive it could be.”
8. Speak with your body.
Non-verbal communication is crucial if you want to make small talk meaningful. Using your facial expressions and your body language can make any conversation more engaging and interesting. According to a 2017 study, using hand and head gestures during a conversation can ensure that your listener responds more promptly to your questions.
The lead author of the study, Judith Holler at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics at Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands, says “Bodily signals appear to profoundly influence language processing in interaction. Questions accompanied by gestures lead to shorter turn transition times, that is, to faster responses, than questions without gestures, and responses come even earlier when gestures end before compared to after the question turn has ended.”
However, it’s not just about hand gestures. Samantha Boardman, M.D. explains “Body language cues like eye contact, sincere nodding, and leaning in, communicate interest. Smile, uncross your arms, pay attention. Nothing kills a pleasant conversation like feeling the other person doesn’t care about what you’re saying.”
9. Be mindful.
Be aware of the present moment and observe what is going on around you. Practicing mindfulness can immediately turn a boring, casual chat into a deep, stimulating conversation. It’s better to open your eyes and ears before you choose to open your mouth, says CEO Gary Burnison.
He explains “Find something to focus on in your surroundings… There’s bound to be something that will spark small talk and help lead the conversation into unique follow-up questions.”
Here some other quick tips from author and CEO Patti Johnson to add some pizzazz to your conversation and make small talk meaningful:
– Be intentional about who you want to talk to. Don’t just stumble onto people and start talking. Decide who you want to talk with and seek people who are open to make new connections.
– Make sure to have fun. Consider this as a game and take the challenge to meet some new people. It will get easier and more enjoyable this way.
– Instead of waiting for others to approach you and make sure to initiate conversation. Take charge and meet the people you find interesting.
– Do not shadow only one person during the entire event. Branch out and meet as many people as you want to.