The Minimalist Guide to Small talk

Small talk doesn’t have to be hard. To show how simple it is I’m going to give you just a few easy tips.

Go to movies.

Yep. My first tip for you is to go to movies. This is actually a sneaky tip, because it works in two different ways, but that’s what minimalism is all about, right? The first way it works is by giving you something to talk about. People love talking about pop culture, and if you can ask them (and listen to) their opinion about a movie, and then reply, and do the whole back-and-forth thing, well, you’ll have engaged in small talk! The second thing that going to movies can do for you is demonstrate how people successfully engage in small talk. Pay attention to when strangers meet in movies and see how they chat. Listen to the conversational give-and-take during dinner and party scenes. You may be able to learn something.

Lots of other people are nervous about initiating conversation.

You can be seen as the hero if you approach someone who’s standing alone. Just walk up to them, introduce yourself, and ask them something relevant (“How do you know JoeBob?” or “What conference seminars do you think look most interesting?”).

You already have something in common with the person you’re talking to.

People waiting in line, not talking to each other.

Standing in line can be made more interesting if you stop ignoring each other.

Regardless of where you are, you have that location and the fact that you’re there in common with whomever you’re talking to. You can use this. If you don’t know what to say, you can start by asking a question. What question depends on your personality, but keep it clean.

For instance, if you’ve been waiting in line for a while, you can use that to start a conversation. “So, what do you do when you’re not standing in long lines?” It’s a ridiculous, unexpected question that acknowledges the situation and gives them a chance to vent or tell you something about themselves.

It really can be that simple.

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