Etiquette

How To Small Talk

cartoon of a party

 Small talk is a weapon every gentleman should have in his arsenal. Whether in a personal or business environment, mastering small talk can avoid awkward silences, help you build contacts, ease shyness and social anxiety. Hell, it may even be the key to finding common ground when you first meet your future spouse. Read our guide on how to master the art of small talk.

small talk

noun

  1. polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, especially as engaged in on social occasions

 

Take Control

Become the leader of the room, act the host and not the guest. When you change this mindset it will put you on the front foot instead of the back, propelling you to start looking for people to talk to rather than waiting in shadows to be approached. You are going to guide the conversation in the direction you want it to go, and cultivate what you need from each exchange.

Deliver Open Questions

These are the types of questions that cannot be reciprocated by a simple “yes”, “no” or “fine”. Try to coax answers that tell you more about your conversational companion. Imagine yourself in the other persons shoes as well. Make sure you haven’t fallen into the same trap and take care to provide responses longer than one or two word answers. Deliver a personal anecdote to add extra weight to a conversation, this can help to pour more petrol on the verbal bonfire helping more of your charm come across.

Know Your Elevator Pitch

There is always going to be a handful of questions that you will get asked in most situations. This will cover the basics including career and personal interests with your answers obviously changing to reflect any developments in your life. Take the time to master these answers to ensure that your responses stand out from the crowd.

Keep Some Questions In The Back Pocket

The conversation was going swimmingly but now that awkward silence is gaining traction. Keeping a couple aces up your sleeve will mean you can bridge that river of reticence. The easiest way is by getting them to talk about themselves. People love doing this.

Recognise When It Isn’t Working

By this I mean the conversation not your overall strategy. Unfortunately there are some people who just don’t want to engage in small talk with either you or the next gentleman who comes along. Maybe they have been forced to attend that conference by their boss and are clock watching until they leave. There are a multitude of different scenarios as to why someone might not want to talk. Don’t force it and don’t dwell on it! Move on to your next target.

 

“Some people have a way with words, and other people…oh, uh, not have way.”
― Steve Martin

For some references on helping to improve your small talk you can search on Amazon.

Sam Brady is a menswear expert, having worked in or around the field for the past 14 years. He has built up a keen eye for detail when it comes to the production of clothing, and is happy showcasing the craftsmanship of Savile Row and Jermyn St. But he understands the need for an interchangeable modern man’s wardrobe that mixes high street and luxury clothing.

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