I’m a firm believer in preparing for little conversations like small talk because a.) I want my interactions to be productive b.) I don’t want them to be awkward, especially if I’m trying to build a relationship.
Preparation can range from doing a little research on people I’ll encounter, identifying success statements I can use in response to “How are you?” and having a few general questions in my back pocket to start a sports conversation. Here are some examples:
They’re canned questions that can get a timely response. I think of these as really generic questions and while I typically advocate for asking specific questions that get you closer to your conversation goal, these questions work just fine at starting a conversation.
BUT… your goal probably isn’t just to start a conversation. You’re not just trying to fill time or dead air. You’re probably trying to get something out of the exchange. To do that you need to stay in the moment, listen to the response and ask a more specific follow up question that will help you reach your objective (i.e. getting to know someone better, creating a follow up opportunity or transitioning to a business conversation.)
Having a few questions in your back pocket can alleviate stress around trying to figure out what to say, make small talk less awkward and ensure it’s more productive.
If you noticed that all the questions listed as examples are sports related and are skeptical of that approach the next Talk Sporty 101 is for you.