YOU DON’T HAVE TO ENGAGE IN THE DREADED, UNPLEASANT, AWEFUL SMALL TALK
BREAK FREE OF SMALL TALK AND LEARN TO BECOME A DRIVER OF CONVERSATION.
Do you hate small talk? Is it something that makes you avoid social gatherings or even business networking events? Do you find these interactions awkward, unpleasant, and boring, and steer clear of them at all costs?
Today we’re going to be tackling the dreaded topic of small talk and discussing how to move beyond it once and for all!
If you’re anything like most people, small talk irritates you on at least some level. For those with a history of social anxiety, however, it’s a total nightmare. Small talk exists almost exclusively in the realm of new encounters, which usually occur at larger functions—two things that more introverted people tend to avoid like the plague.
What I’ve found in my work with many clients is that the superficiality of small talk is what turns more introverted people off—these individuals would much prefer to speak one-on-one or engage in a tight-knit, deep conversation with a small group of people who they know well.
And that’s completely understandable.
Small talk is hard to stomach—it’s requires constant focus on topics that usually aren’t that interesting, and it needs to be fueled just about every other sentence to keep it up.
It’s exhausting! So why do we put up with it? Because we think we have to—but I’ve got great news for you: you don’t.
People have grown so accustomed to the monotony of small talk that they’ve just come to accept it as a necessary evil. But the truth is that it doesn’t have to dominate your entire night. Sure, as an adult, you must get proficient enough with small talk to go back and forth with a couple polite (yet trite) exchanges . . . but after that—if you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone and become a leader—you’ll never have to wade in the mire of small talk again!
Most people tend to approach conversations like a passenger, rather than a driver, sitting and waiting for the other person to make the decisions and drive the conversation. They allow others to ask questions and share what they want to share—then they’re stuck in that rut, only discussing what the other person brings up.
If you don’t want to get trapped into talking about the weather and your neighbor’s dietary restrictions, you’re going to need to take the wheel and become the driver of the conversation. This, of course, takes boldness, courage, and the ability to express who you are. As a more introverted person, though, you may be sitting there dreading the prospect of such actions. But don’t head for the hills just yet!
As it turns out, there’s an amazing way to work past the fears you associate with taking control of conversations, and it’s easier than you think.
To begin with, I’d like for you to think of three things that interest you—the more fascinated you are with the topics and the longer you’ve been fascinated by them, the better. Why am I asking you to do this?
If you can find ways to inject your passion into the conversation, 90% of the battle is already won.
When you’re truly passionate about what you’re discussing, you’re automatically engaged with your entire being—your energy changes, your physicality emits a sense of confidence and excitement, and others will be naturally drawn to you.
That is what great conversations are really about, after all: energy exchange. A quality conversation is simply a chance to resonate symbiotically with another person or group of people as you share ideas and discuss what drives you. If you have no energy with someone, it’s probably because neither of you is engaged in the topic (like Brittney’s gluten intolerance).
To be successful in moving past small talk as quickly as possible, you must be willing to share your passions and do so with your full energy.
Now, many of you are probably thinking that this goes against every piece of advice you’ve ever heard about conversing with others (make it all about the other person; ask a million questions about them; nobody likes people who talk about themselves).
Sure, there’s truth in some of that—conversing with someone who is truly interested in you can feel good and be quite flattering.
If that is the only tool in your toolbelt, however, you’re going to run into problems, and quickly. As I’ve already mentioned, it can be extremely draining to constantly give your focus and energy without receiving any back in return—and your fatigue will not go unnoticed by the person on the other side of the conversation. What’s worse, however, is that you cannot begin to connect with someone or gain any amount of fulfillment yourself if the other person walks away knowing nothing about you.
Whether you’re attempting to form new relationships, influence someone, or just survive the night, one of your primary goals should be to express who you are.
Yes, you must ask questions about the other person to engage them initially, but then, it’s up to you to steer the conversation toward a topic that both of you can attach your energies to. This is why it is so important to go into these conversations armed with your three passion topics. If you need a little extra help learning to incorporate these into conversations, check out my program, The Confidence Code, which dives deeply into breaking free of your fears and learning to go after what you want in life with confidence!
In the meantime, though, you should begin incorporating this idea into your daily interactions as a matter of habit.
Let’s face it: most people’s lives are fairly monotonous. When you can inject a sliver of passion and energy into their days, it’s a refreshing and welcome change from the norm! Even if you don’t think that your passion topics are that interesting, just trust that your enthusiasm will be enough to drive the conversation and lead you somewhere infinitely more engaging than small talk.
Consider the simple question, “Hey, how are you doing?” Most conversations start this way, but there’s no reason that we always have to answer with the obligatory, “Fine, how are you?” That, my friends, is a one-way ticket to Smalltalkville.
What if, instead, you answered that question with a piece of information that allowed you to share a passion?
- “I’m doing great! I took an amazing cycling class yesterday, and the teacher was so inspirational!”
Now, instead of going through the motions, the other person has a chance to either share his or her passion about cycling, or he or she can learn something about this completely new topic! Either way, you’re not talking about the drive into work, and that’s a good thing.
This is just the beginning of the sort of doors you will open through this amazingly simple technique. Once you get comfortable inviting more passion and engagement into your interactions, you will begin to truly own your place as a driver in conversation, and success in your love life, career, and social world will be inevitable. This is what I want for you, and what I know you can achieve with a little work and dedication!
Thank you for being with me for this discussion! Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic below: What topics work well for you in group conversations? Have you noticed a difference between the subjects you bring up in one-on-one and group interactions? How have you begun to move past your fears? All of your insights are valuable, so I invite you to share yours as a member of the community.
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.