“First impressions last” – you’ve probably heard this phrase a million times already. It might be cliché, but we cannot deny the fact that there is some truth to it.
First impressions might change, but it can also be a make or break point for a relationship – be it romantic, friendly, or business-related. Now, how do you create an excellent first impression?
You can dress well and package yourself in a presentable way. But if you want to clinch that good first impression, you need to learn the art of small talk.
For this post, we will talk about small talk and everything you need to know about it.
What is Small Talk?
Let’s begin with the definition.
Small talk is described to be an informal form of discourse wherein people (usually strangers) talk about basic information about themselves. It is initiating a discussion. Small talk is a conversation starter. It is used to build rapport and is used by people in the conversation to find matching interests before they can segue to a more important topic.
What is small talk? Small talk is your gateway to know someone more. It is the key that could possibly unlock infinite possibilities. When you match with someone, who has the same interests as you, clinch that new connection by mastering how to make small talk.
Importance of Small Talk
It might be named “small” talk, but it serves for big purposes. Your skill to do small talk can either earn you that deal or lose it; it can either make you click in a group or be totally isolated; it can make you connect with someone or disconnect with them completely.
Small talk is important, and here are some reasons why:
It establishes trust
When you do small talk, you get to know the person better. Your exchange of information is your starting point on how you can go to bigger things. Without small talk, you won’t have that common ground that will serve as a foundation of what is yet to come.
Thus, small talk is the beginning of trust. It’s where you start to open up, and it is where you begin to let people in. It is through small talk that you are given a glimpse of the person’s personality. It is also through small talk that will help you decide whether someone is trustworthy or not.
It’s the key to more substantial topics
Substantive conversations do not begin as they are. If machines need to warm up before they fully function, so are conversations. In this case, small talks serve as the warm-up. You need to have a quality warm-up, though, because it will affect the quality of the real conversation.
Once you’ve warmed-up enough, you can now move to the real thing.
It gives you important information about the person you’re talking to
Things like a person’s hobby or interests might easily be dismissed as irrelevant. But this information is actually beneficial if you really want to get to know someone.
It is through small talk that this information is revealed. Therefore, you must already be keen enough to observe the information the other person is telling you. Then you can pick up the conversation from there.
This information is part of a person’s identity. If you want to click with that person truly, you have to use that information as a steppingstone of building trust.
It conveys affection
It might just be a simple “Hey, I like your hair today” or “You look good in your profile picture,” but it’s these little things that make some people better. For some, it can be a reaffirmation they’ve been longing.
So, make that connection by learning to appreciate these things.
Everyone needs it
Small talks are important because we all need it. Before we begin essential conversations, we usually start with light ones because this can make us feel more relaxed and confident.
You don’t go to a business meeting and say “Hey, I want you to sign a business deal with us” – you might end up losing it. You will appear too aggressive, and the one you’re talking to might be taken aback.
Pleasures are important
We usually talk about lighter topics when we start a small talk. Part of them is our hobbies and interests. Many of us might brush off these topics as unimportant because they are part of our pleasures.
Pleasures are important. It is part of a person’s identity. Small talk is about these pleasures; therefore, talking about it also gives you a glimpse of a person’s identity.
Small Talk Topics
For this part, we will talk about good and bad small talk topics. Let’s start with the good. Good small talk topics are those that are neutral, practical, common, and easy to answer topics.
Good Small Talk Topics
Here are nine small talk topics that you can use:
Weather is not a dull topic to start a conversation with. It is something we can all relate to. For example, there’s heavy rain in your area. You can start the conversation by asking how the person is doing despite the rain. This situation expresses warmth and affection and can lead to greater things.
Sport is an interesting topic to talk about if the one you’re talking to is interested in it. It would be good to know that you are rooting for the same team or opposing teams.
Sports create a connection between people. When you are rooting for the same team, it’s like you are part of a community. And anyone in that community is immediately considered as family.
Entertainment is another conversation starter. You can talk about the latest movie or both of your favorite movies; talk about the latest TV shows; discuss about that newly opened restaurant or share about your music preferences.
Talking about this stuff can help you know a person more because of their preferences, and their pleasures define who they are.
We all eat food, so it is something we can all relate to.
Talk to them about their favorite food or restaurant. Do they have any food allergies? Do they have something peculiar they want to do about their food? Do they eat exotic foods? What was the strangest food they’ve ever tried?
Answers to these questions are good conversation starters.
When you first meet someone, asking where they work would naturally come out from our mouths. This will give us an idea about what their career is and what they do. When your work background is related to each, then this will serve as your common ground. If not, you can always ask the person to talk about his/her field.
You have to be careful, though, as some people are not comfortable in sharing where they work.
Get to know their passions. People are more interested in sharing about things that make them happy. They are more relaxed and open to talk about things that can bring them joy. They would also be more enthusiastic to talk about these things.
Who knows, both of you have the same hobbies, and you can do the activity together in the future. For example, you both like traveling. You might end up as lifetime travel buddies.
Talk about the latest happenings in your area and see what the other person thinks about it. Listen to his/her opinion and discuss things from there. It won’t be necessary to have the same take as with the other person, but be careful not to impose your position to them.
Another small talk topic is about family. This basic information can help you understand the personality of the person. You can ask whether he/she has brothers/sisters or does he/she already have children. Is the other person single or married?
People like to talk about experiences, and one of them is travel. It would be a good conversation starter to find out that both of you have already been to the same place. You can share your experiences, funny stories, and interesting takeaways about that trip.
Bad Small Talk Topics
If some things are good topics to talk about, there are also some topics that you should avoid when having a small talk. These topics are heavy and not recommended for first-time meetups.
Here are nine topics you shouldn’t talk about:
Politics can be a polarizing topic. Some people judge you based on the people you support because this also reveals your principles. Discussing it with someone you just met for the first time might be the reason why the relationship cannot prosper. This might leave a bad taste to anyone who doesn’t have the same beliefs as you.
Religion is something people strongly feel about to the point that they are willing to argue just to uphold what they believe in. We have differences with our religious beliefs, and if that appears the first time you talk to each other, you might not be able to settle those differences.
Finances are a very personal topic. Some people are not comfortable discussing it with someone they practically just met. This might lead them to think that you have other ulterior motives on why you started a talk with them – and usually, it’s not a good one.
People only divulge this information with confidence. And since small talk is still a stage of building trust, it is recommended that you don’t bring up this topic first.
People are sensitive to their physical appearance. Yes, they like to be complimented, but they might also be easily offended by it. Be careful about your comments, as this might be a tipping point for some individuals.
Death or illness
Death and illness are morbid topics to talk about the first time you meet someone. It’s heavy, and there’s just too much weight on it. If you ever come through this topic unexpectedly, try to change the topic immediately.
For example, you asked about someone’s family members, and it turned out that they’ve lost that person, politely say sorry and try to open a new topic.
You’ll never know what their take is about certain people. This topic can be enjoyable to talk about only when you already know each other for quite some time.
It will leave a negative impression if you talk bad about someone to someone you just met for the first time. At all means, try to avoid these kinds of stuff.
Be sensitive enough with your jokes because it might not be their goodwill that you’re cracking. When you make jokes, make sure it is related to nothing personal like how they look.
A bad joke can be distasteful and can easily break someone’s image of you.
Anything sexual in nature
You don’t want to be thought of as a pervert on your first meeting, right? In that case, it would be best to avoid topics that are sexual in nature. These things are better discussed when you already know the person well. By that time, you will already know how that person reacts to the topic.
Anything specific that only a few people relate to
It’s the same as not using jargon when writing or talking about something. It would be difficult for the small talk to prosper if the topic you are talking to is not very relatable.
How to Master Small Talk
We’ve already laid down the importance of small talk. The next question is, how are you going to master it?
Well here are some tips on how to master small talk:
Prepare at least ten small talk topics
You can start by identifying the things you want to talk about but always leave yourself open about the things the other person wants to talk about, too.
These topics can also help you avoid dead air during a conversation. We all know that having dead air in the conversation is not a good sign.
Learn how to listen
You should learn how to listen to what the other has to say. It wouldn’t leave a good impression to be the only one who does the talking. The other person would think your vain and narcissistic.
Learn how to ask questions and the right one at that. Showing that you are curious is a hint that you are interested in what they have to say. This will keep them engaged and interested.
Look for common interests
The small talk can easily prosper when both of you talk about common interests or experiences. These common interests will be your ticket to keep the conversation going.
Be part of the conversation
Don’t let the other person do all the talking as well. He/she might think that you are not interested in the topic. Also, avoid answering with just a yes or no. It would be difficult to find your way around with someone who only has short answers. If you do that, then it would be more of a how to avoid small talk attitude.
Things can take the wrong turn if you choose to be someone else. Doing small talk won’t be as real and unadulterated as it should be if you try to be someone else. Just be yourself and be confident enough about it.
Small talk is a very important skill to learn, especially if you have Outist. Outist is an app that can help you connect with people with the same interests as you. Mastering the skill on how to make small talk is very important because it is your first interaction with the people you match with. You might get to match with them, but it is a small talk that solidifies this connection.
For apps like Outist, small talk is a necessity because these are strangers that you are still getting to know. The app is a platform where you can connect, but it will be through your small-talking skills that can make that match meaningful.
It’s simple: you make a good impression during the first time you talk, the higher the chances that it’s going to translate to a lasting relationship. Blow up the small talk, and you will likely see yourself in a disadvantaged situation. So, you really need to learn how to small talk.
We’ve run you through how to small talk and the different topics that you should talk about and should avoid during the conversation. As to how to avoid small talk, you just do the reverse of those tips. These situations occur when you feel like being uncomfortable with the other person.
We cannot stress out the importance of small talk when it comes to starting a connection or building a relationship. Think of small talk as a start of greater things. After all, small talk is not small at all. Now that you’re ready, it’s time to get those matches.
Match with people nearby and discover local events based on similar interests. Make friends and keep meetups near you safe by leaving references.Download our app from Google Play or Apple Store.