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Nov 14 2016

How to Survive When You Hate Small Talk


For many people, small talk is a necessary evil. They anticipate it with dread, dislike the actual experience, and feel relief when it’s over—but make it anyway because it’s a part of socializing.

What if you didn’t hate small talk? Imagine how much more you’d enjoy networking events, watercooler chats, and random interactions.

Good news: With these four strategies, light conversation will be far more tolerable—and maybe even fun!

1. Keep a Couple of Questions Up Your Sleeve

There’s no reason “small talk” has to be synonymous with “the weather.” To avoid getting stuck in dull conversations, prepare several open-ended questions.

Here are a couple to get you started:

  • If you had control over the soundtrack, what song would you play next?
  • What are you looking forward to at work?
  • What’s the last movie you watched?
  • If you had to choose a new profession that didn’t use any of the same skills as your current one, what would it be?

Any time the topic turns to the weather (or any topic you are not engaged with), use one of your questions to kick-start a more interesting discussion.

2. Don’t Call It “Small” Talk

Simply reframing how you think of this activity can make a huge difference. Rather than calling it “small talk,” give it a title that reflects the benefits.

For example, imagine you’re going to a networking happy hour. Rather than thinking, “Oh, great, hours of inane chatter,” tell yourself, “Awesome, I’ll get the chance to connect with others in my industry.”

Or if you were en route to an office get-together, you might think, This’ll be a good opportunity to get to know my coworkers in a more laid-back environment.

Focusing on the benefits of small talk will undoubtedly make it easier to bear.

3. Look for Like-Minded Folks

Next time you’re at an event, scan the space for someone who’s alone. Walk over to them and introduce yourself. There’s a good chance they’re riding solo because—like you—they don’t like conversation that feels forced. Together, you might actually enjoy yourselves.

Wondering what you should say after, “Hi, I’m Jane Doe”? How about something direct, such as, “I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of small talk.” They’ll probably smile and nod in agreement. Then, you can pop one of your questions—or simply stand in comfortable silence.

4. Ignore the Awkwardness

Whenever you’re meeting new people or talking to those you don’t know very well, a little awkwardness is bound to crop up. If you have a cringe-worthy moment, you could spend the next four hours thinking about how embarrassing it was or what you’d do differently. But that’s completely unproductive.

Instead of dwelling on the moment, do your best to wipe it from your memory. The easier you are on yourself, the less apprehensive you’ll be about future interactions.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.

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