‘Strangers’ – has always been a panic spot since our childhood. We have been warned over and over about it… But hey – now how many of us like breaking the rules. Studies show that small talk can make you smarter, healthier and happier. 

University of Michigan researchers discovered an increase in problem solving abilities

after casual social conversations. They also found that those interactions may lower

the risk for heart attacks. Another study found that commuters said their train ride

was a lot more enjoyable when they engaged with other passengers, and those good

feelings lasted for hours.

You may feel a little uncomfortable to start off the conversation or speak up first, however trust me the rewards are amazing. 

If you are ready to brush up your small talk skills, here are a few tips.

  1. Increase your Mindfulness: Do you find it difficult to focus on the moment? Are you too overwhelmed by your to-do list? Talking to someone – anyone face to face calls your attention to what’s happening now.
  2. Expand your network: Job opportunities and business connections are the most common leads that a casual conversation can create. You may even meet your future client at the airport or deli or a coffee shop.
  3. Out of the box thinking: There’s a natural tendency to surround ourselves with the people with similar back grounds or someone we share our views and ideas with. Stepping out of our comfort zone introduces us to a fresh views or perspectives and an abundance in knowledge. It also activates the out of box thinking making us appreciate what we have now – the moment.
  4. Make new friends: Karan Johar – and most of the Bollywood movies speak about it… Friendships and romances have to start somewhere – not always you fall in love with your best friend. You got to meet someone new!!! Sharing an observation or extending a compliment may help you find companionship and love.

The Ice Breaker Tips:

  1. Understand and Assess the situation: Obviously, some occasions are more suited then others to initiate a conversation. Someone concentrating on their golf swing isn’t going to laugh at your jokes. However, someone standing in a long queue getting bored with a good eye contact is likely to respond to your smile or a quick hi. 
  2. Common Grounds: New to small talks? Start off small – probably about the weather and upbeat new stories would make interesting conversations. Browse online for something interesting to talk about. 
  3. Look Approachable: If you still feel awkward making that first move – Absolutely fine, encourage others to seek out to you. Put on your beautiful smile.Carry some interesting magazines with you – art or science. When you are in a coffee shop or in a hotel lobby or any place – choose a seat facing the crowd. 

Now the most important part. The major pitfall that you may face at the start is once the conversation is initiated – how to keep it going? Don’t you worry. There are a few things that can keep you going: 

  1. Listen: Yep! Very Important. Show others you are interested in what they have to say. Focus on the message and not on how you would like to respond. 
  2. The Story Telling: Trust the process. Create some amusing anecdotes for answering the usual questions like – what do you do? Where are you from? Details make it easier to keep the conversation going.
  3. Questions: Ask… open ended questions keep the conversation flowing. 
  4. Get Deeper: Research shows that we like small talks, however we tend to feel even better after a nice heart to heart chat. While you are sensible as to how much personal information you would like to share, you may also want to risk opening up a little. 
  5. Appreciate: Expressions do wonders… let someone know if you think they are funny or insightful or just nice. It’s easy to like others when they seem to like us. 
  6. Follow up: if you have had a good time then don’t let it go in vain. Find a way to be in touch. Introduce yourself or hand off your business card if appropriate. End the conversations with looking forward to meet in future. 

Running with a knife is still kind of risky, however talking to strangers is good for your health and career. 

Step out…. Reach out… See what difference a little small talk can make in a daily routine.