Having more meaningful relationships with friends both new and old is a great goal, and it can start with your conversations. Below are five tips for those of us frustrated with small talk.
Skip the weather. As tempting as it may be to springboard off the weather, this can lead you down the empty-conversation rabbit hole and into a twenty-minute dialogue about rain. Asking about almost anything else should yield more interesting results.
Think of base questions. So, what should you talk about, if not the weather? Come up with a short list of base questions you can turn to in a flash. If you’re talking to a stranger or new acquaintance, try “have you done any traveling lately?” or “are you reading any good books?” These more personal questions show genuine interest and will actually reveal something about your conversation partner.
Make eye contact. Regardless of what you’re discussing, work to maintain or at least occasionally create eye contact, which signals to your conversation partner that you’re listening; this can help forge intimacy.
Keep asking questions. An awkward lull in the conversation? Keep asking questions. If you know your convo partner well, turn to questions about their family or hobbies. If it’s a new acquaintance, ask them if they’ve checked out a specific restaurant you loved, or what they do for fun in the area.
Understand how to wrap up. Nothing is more uncomfortable than not knowing how to escape a conversation when it has run its course. A simple, “well it was great chatting with you,” should suffice, and is a lot less uncomfortable than floundering in social agony.