*This new post is by new GuyGuides wordsmith, Rob.
To be a good conversationalist. You need small talk.
- Maybe you don’t want this skill set.
- Maybe you think being a chatty person is the same thing as being an annoying person.
- Maybe you think it’s beneath you to make small talk and you’re all about “deeper” conversation
Here’s the thing. If you’re nodding in agreement, it probably means you’re awkward as fuck. No hard feelings. Nearly everyone is.
Conversation is something everyone thinks they’re good at. For about half of you, that’s not true. For an unfortunate 5% of you, that’s a lie of such monstrous proportions it puts the North Korean propaganda machine to shame. (golf claps and begrudging nods of approval for you)
The thing is when we talk, we gauge our abilities off when we talk with our friends. That’s cheating. You have history with your friends. You can read their micro expressions.
It’s easy to keep the ball rolling because you know their past, their present, ambitions, and are mutual friends with their cat on Facebook.
With strangers, suddenly that crutch is removed and every so often you’re left poking them with the question stick until it’s time for everyone to awkwardly leave. Even people who weren’t involved. It’s just that bad.
Again. No hard feelings.
Running into someone who can actually hold a conversation is borderline miraculous. It’s enjoyable, fun, and endears you to them. Everyone has a friend they enjoy hanging out with because conversation flows so naturally with them (and not so naturally with others).
What most of us don’t realize is that conversation flows easily because those friends facilitate for your flawed communication. Whenever there would be an awkward lull, they pick up the slack for you. No fear though. This isn’t really your fault, and is something everyone is capable of fixing.
Even better, conversation is the most scalable skill you will ever learn. It is SO useful and applicable so universally, it’s unreal. Literally every encounter you have with another human being is an opportunity to connect with someone who can add value to your existence.
Everyone is amazing at something, and you’re missing out when you don’t or can’t stop and figure out what that is.
Once you even attain a baseline competence at this…you will look like an amazing person and people will want to have your babies*
So how do I inspire baby fever in perfect strangers? The first of many steps is holding their attention. This involves learning how to talk like you’ve got the worst case of ADHD you’ve EVER seen.
Step 1: Begin talking about something you see.
Step 2: Once you’re warmed up, transition over to another related subject
Step 3: Now transition again.
Step 4: AGAIN.
Step 5: AGAIN, DAMNIT.
Step 6: Now keep doing this for an hour a day for 6 months.
On transitioning: All you’re doing is simple word association and then talking about it. If I started off on apples it’d be easy for me to transition into apple cider, and then how apple cider reminds me of Christmas, and then to family holidays and how no one in my family can handle their booze because we’re all “asian glow” happy. Then I could talk about how the UCSD VA used to run a research study where they got Asians drunk, etc. etc.
As you go, you’ll find that you’ve naturally become higher energy, more interesting, and generally more attractive as a human being. This is a pain in the ass, and WILL make you look like a crazy person unless conducted in a contained environment.
I like to save this for my commute to work, but if you don’t like your neighbors and/or generally don’t care how obnoxious you get, feel free to do this in public. The extra pressure will help you improve faster….probably.
If you pay attention to any good conversation, you’ll notice it’s an exchange of statements, not question and answer.
What you’re doing through this brain hack is reprogramming your brain to run with any topic and smoothly transition into new ones with less effort. Over time you’ll develop the ability to not only tread water indefinitely, but to make it massively entertaining.
*Unless you’re a ginger. Then all bets are off.
1 thought on “How to be Disgustingly Good at Small Talk”
Great breakdown about what a good conversation looks like! Cherry has found that rather than asking a bunch of questions to “get to know” someone, it’s easier to just talk about what you wanna talk, let them react to that, and vice-versa.
You can add that small talk might make you happier too! I just saw this article today: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/06/04/how-to-make-small-talk-with-strangers-my-21-day-happiness-experiment/