Whether you are a natural people person or an introvert at heart, mastering the art of chit chat can be a valuable skill. Let’s face it; not everyone has the gift of gab. Have you ever been to a party or another social gathering and felt like your whole mind went blank?
Don’t feel bad. Even the best conversationalists have awkward moments, especially around new or intimidating people. In these situations, your social anxiety may peak because you fear that you will say the wrong thing, or someone will cast judgment.
Yes, we’ve heard the adage that it’s better to be a fool and remain silent than to say something and remove all doubt. Don’t let the irrational fear of misspeaking prevent you from rewarding conversation or meeting fascinating new friends.
Are you a loner and wish you could be more socially active? Some decidedly introverted people are forced into extroversion because of their jobs or a special occasion. If this is your lot, learning how to chit chat like a pro is not difficult, with practice.
You don’t need to take speech classes or read a stack of books on becoming more social. The more you are exposed to people and force yourself to make small talk, the easier it will be. Try some of these useful hacks for getting the conversation rolling.
Tips to Overcome the Awkwardness of Chit Chat
1 – Be Genuine
Remember that no one in the universe exists who is quite like you. So, why not relax and be yourself? Being you is a skill nobody else has, and you can do it naturally. People connect with others who are comfortable in their skin.
Have you noticed how easy it is to spot someone fake? While some are just natural bores, most fakers are insecure and try too hard. Who likes to be around someone who is continuously bragging and puffing themselves up with a false persona?
When you feel antsy in a group setting and don’t want to be a bump on a log, be secure in yourself. You should always smile, nod, and contribute to the conversation. Let others see your personality and the best in you.
People will respect you when you are genuine. When they view you as an honest and valuable person, your words will command the same feelings.
2 – Relax and Be Approachable
Your body language says more than any words you say. When you are nervous in a crowd, you probably tense up and have an expression you don’t realize. Instead of seeing a shy participant, others may incorrectly assume that you are aloof and boring.
Body language experts recommend an open posture when talking with people. When your body contracts, your arms are folded, and you are leaning away from others. This pose creates an illusion of disinterest and a closed mind. It sends nonverbal cues to other people that you couldn’t care less about what they have to say.
Instead, practice an open posture that welcomes interaction. Relax your body, let your arms hang naturally at your side, and slightly lean in toward the speakers. Others will perceive that you are warm, real, and “open” to friendly chit chat.
Above all else, don’t forget to smile. Nothing turns away a fruitful conversation more than a sour or irritable expression. Even a shy person can feel comfortable around a jovial, smiling new face.
How is your body language? Does it invite people to drum up a conversation, or does it tell others to buzz off? Maybe you don’t even realize what your body language is saying.
You should consider practicing in front of a mirror. Sit or stand the way you usually would and get a real glimpse of what others see. Do your posture and expressions convey openness, or do they tell people to move along?
Practice consistently until an open body language becomes second nature. Ask your mate or a trusted friend to practice with you and to offer honest feedback. When the occasion arises, you will feel more comfortable and can chit chat with practically anyone.
3 – Avoid the Big Three Conversation Killers
Even when you chit chat with a group of friends, some subjects are still taboo. Skilled conversationalists know to steer clear of the big three topics: religion, politics, and sex. Not only do these subjects make most people feel uncomfortable, but they are rarely acceptable in a social situation.
The problem with broaching the big three is that it immediately creates a tense atmosphere. The smallest comments can cause others to be offended. The last impression you want to leave is that you are a chauvinist, racist, or closed-minded.
Don’t worry, because you have countless subjects that can be discussed without stepping on toes. If you are with like-minded people in a religious or political setting, such discussion may be appropriate. However, be respectful of other opinions, and don’t turn a fun gathering into your soapbox.
4 – Learn to Be a Good Listener
Although extroverts shine in a crowd, introverted people may be the best listeners. Mastering the art of chit chat includes more than just knowing how to talk to others. Skilled conversationalists must also be good listeners.
Try to imagine a conversation as two people sawing a tree with an old band saw. You push the saw toward your partner, and he pushes it back to you. If one person were pushing just one way, the saw would jam, and the tree would keep standing.
The back-and-forth motion eventually cuts down the tree. Productive conversation depends on listening just as much as it does on talking. If you have ever endured a one-sided conversation with a hopeless bore, you understand the concept.
In a conversation with one or more people, make it a habit to listen to what each person says. Often, you may miss crucial or thought-provoking points because you are too busy thinking of what you are going to say next.
Did you know that people who are skilled listeners perceived as attractive, intelligent, and open to conversation? As a shy person, maybe you have honed excellent listening skills by just being a silent observer in discussions. Listening is a master skill that we can all improve.
Are you a good listener? When you chit chat with family or friends, do you find your mind wandering and don’t realize what they are saying? Do you catch yourself continually interrupting or formulating your next sentence while others are speaking?
Instead of just hearing the words, make listening to others a priority. Mirror the other person’s enthusiasm and facial expressions and lean in a little toward her. Maintain good eye contact and listen to what she says.
Before you say anything, pause for a few seconds. Good listeners often restate what the person says for clarification and to show genuine interest. Occasionally nod and let others express themselves without you interrupting.
5 – Use Clever Ice Breakers
Isn’t it uncomfortable when you are in an unfamiliar crowd, and the conversation turns into awkward silence? This scene is the worst nightmare for an introverted guest. Everyone is looking at each other with an unspoken plea for someone to speak.
Don’t hesitate to use a little appropriate levity to lift the mood. Getting people to laugh almost instantly opens the floor for interaction. Everyone will feel more relaxed, and the conversation will come naturally.
Are you seated across from a total stranger? Give your sincerest smile and introduce yourself. Keep the chit chat light and unobtrusive. Your differences and similarities will provide cues for intriguing conversation.
The best way to build fruitful interaction is to get people to talk about themselves. Most people enjoy talking about their families, careers, and interests.
Carefully avoid the big three topics and any questions that are too personal. Try to keep chit chat light and stir clear of depressing or controversial subjects.
Final Thoughts: Tactful Tips for an Otherwise Awkward Conversation
Not everyone you meet at a gathering will be mannerly and display proper social skills. You may often be an unwilling participant in a tanking conversation. While you are not expected to be the moderator at the table, you can still tactfully retreat.
If you view someone’s statements as rude, vulgar, or otherwise unacceptable, find a way to excuse yourself. You are not obligated to participate in unpleasant chatter. It is perfectly fine to browse over to another table or room.
Everyday interaction and chatting may not be your niche. Since socializing with others is often unavoidable, even timid people can assimilate excellent conversational skills. The more you get involved in social settings, the easier it will be to relate to others.
Remember to relax, be yourself, and have fun. Talking is one of the vital essential skills that separates us from the animal kingdom. As you share a conversation with new people, you make friends, and all your lives are enriched. A good conversation can be a pleasant experience for all involved.