I hate small talk. I really do. But I realise it is a necessary evil. How can I build connection, be authentic and not feel like I am just wasting my time and energy talking about the weather, TV programmes or how quickly the traffic is or isn’t moving today?
To build authentic connections we need to both take risks and establish trust. In different relationships we will need to do both to varying levels, but all relationships need to start somewhere.
Small talk can be tedious but it has its uses as a first step to connection. It helps to open a dialogue and start to build a bridge towards another person. Once you have spent a few minutes laying foundations, you can then move the dialogue onto the next level. However, it is often best not to strip off and get emotionally naked on the very first meeting! Over-sharing when it is not reciprocated is rarely a good idea.
If you are unsure when to take risks or dive deeper in a conversation, my tip would be to stay on the same level or just one step ahead of the other person. This helps you to make sure that there is trust on both sides before opening yourself up further. If for any reason you don’t feel the other person is trustworthy then stay on the level that you are happy with and don’t proceed any further even if they choose to.
Next time you need to jump in with a bit of small talk, why not put your focus on the other person and get a curious about who they are? Concern yourself with making them feel comfortable and you might just forget how much you dislike small talk. See it as building great foundations instead. You never know whether this person will end up being just a passing acquaintance or your best friend for life.
If you are up for a challenge, why not see how many conversations you can initiate with people you don't know this week? Hopefully, it will become easier the more you do it. I look forward to hearing how you get on.
Until then be bold, be brave and be yourself.
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