How to Get Past Small Talk (Video of Conversations Between Strangers)

Question:

How do you turn someone you have a chat with every now and then into an actual friend?

How do you go from just being acquaintances – to being able to hang out one on one?

We need to first get past the small talk and actually connect.

Today I’m gonna show you what I do to avoid running out of things to say and how to get an interesting conversation going. You know – a conversation that actually helps you bond.

This is like pressing fast forward on your interaction until you start connecting.

Some people have a hard time becoming close friends with people they like. In the video below, I show some of the principles that have helped my participants the most.


Often the hardest part isn’t meeting new people. It’s to create a connection and build a relation with them – without having to put on a mask.

Here’s how I do it:

 

Here’s what you will learn in the video:

00:22 – How a team of Canadian researchers turned total strangers into close friends in 45 minutes
01:33 – The factor that decides if we become closer or not
01:50 – How to get past the small talk by turning any conversation into PERSONAL MODE
02:34 – The questions I use to get past the small talk
03:58 – Why we rigged an apartment “Big Brother”- style
04:23 – Actual conversation between me and someone I’ve never met before to show how I get past the small talk

After you’ve started the conversation, you’ll have to open up a bit to make a deep connection with someone, but it can be hard to know to what degree you should do it. What if you get too personal and they back off? In the video, I show how to keep the right balance.

One of our readers, Lasse, after trying this method when he was visiting his dad.

 

Notice in the video that this is not about being a shallow person, faking it, or becoming like everyone else. (Quite the opposite, actually.)

Listen to the kind of questions I ask in the video and see how they transform the entire conversation. It becomes genuinely interesting.

“But David, I’m not interested in what others are doing”
-or-
“I’m not even that curious about people!”

You know what? I also don’t care about how Joe has an annoying work colleague and I don’t want to hear about how Joanne’s boyfriend never calls.

A lot of people I come across don’t interest me that much. It’s about asking the right questions, so you can figure out if you DO have something in common. You have to ask the right questions to find out.

You can see how we cut through the meaningless stuff in the video, getting into what’s actually personal and interesting. This is where the bonding happens and the conversation gets interesting.

“But David, it feels weird learning this stuff. It should come naturally.”

For years I thought, if I start practicing this, I will become just like one of those shallow partygoers and lose who I am.

Do you hear how irrational that sounds? Just because I become a better conversationalist, how would that make me shallow or fake?

This is a common mistake: Looking at people who are good at something and thinking we will automatically get their bad sides with the good.

Becoming a conversationalist won’t automatically turn you into someone else. It just means that you’ve improved.

Ironically, the side effect of improving socially is that I can be myself more than ever. I can be the nerd that I’ve always been and people still like me, because I’m socially skilled. I’m fun to talk to. I’m confident in who I am.

This is what I will talk more about the coming days. How to have fun and truly enjoy being around people – while still being yourself.

P.S What would you like to be better at when it comes to making conversation?

Let me know in the comments!

By writing down what you want to improve you drastically increase your chances of reaching your goals.

I’m excited to read about what you want to improve! I’ll make sure to read every comment.

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David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (158)

158 thoughts on “How to Get Past Small Talk (Video of Conversations Between Strangers)”

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  1. I want to be confident and start a conversation with people. I want to be confident facing people. I want to talk long without stuttering. I want these fears to be gone.

    Reply
  2. How to reply to bullying in a gathering and at the same time keep a good image of me that show maturit. At the same time let these people don’t think of make bullying again.

    Reply
  3. I feel that conversations on a professional level, need to be appropriate, and at the same time I am “feeling out” the other person. I enjoy open communication knowing it is safe and respected. I am sincerely and honest, however, some people are players. Having respect boundaries is necessary to see what direction the interaction will take you. Hopefully I gain a new friend.

    Reply
  4. Just scared of too start a conversation with anyone with a Hart..Don’t know how too keep the conversation going either soo …just sucks for me …

    Reply
  5. I just want to be more confident around people, especially girls. I’m ok but not great at talking to people, so when I want to give a girl that I am interested in a complement I get a feeling in my chest so that eventually I overthink everything and don’t actually say anything. Overall, my goal is to improve on talking to everyone as well as becoming more confident around girls I like.

    Reply
  6. Can we get more information that is current to life now? How do you meet people when they won’t allow social gatherings and people are mostly hiding their faces?

    Reply
  7. I think the people I talk to are really cool, but I don’t feel like I’m inputting enough or opening up enough. I often find people trying to get me to open up and then I shut them off by bringing the conversation back to them. I don’t know if its a form of insecurity about my life or the fear of making it all about me. So I want to make genuine relationships with people where we’re both content.

    Reply
  8. Hey David, thank you so much for all your support.
    I want to ask you about something I always do : when I meet someone and feel confortable with them, if I want to be friend withe them I ask this question: <> Should I stop asking this question ??

    Reply
  9. Firstly I want to thank you David for your advice.

    I experience a lot of awkward silence when with another person, however, only sometimes I know how to make small talk but it never ever develops into a conversation. It’s as if the other person isn’t really interested because I put them off.

    I am keen to meet other people and have a lengthy conversation with them without feeling out of place.
    On my approach to speaking to others I tend to pre judge them about pre judging me, and so I forget the idea of going to talk.

    If I’m honest I come across as a nervous wreck and anticipate what’s going to happen and what they might think.

    Reply
  10. Hi David,

    I am good at small talk, but I have problems taking it to the next step with some people. I have learnt some of your technique and will be using it. I learnt a lot form reading your web page.

    Thanks

    Paul

    Reply
  11. Sometimes with small talk, I can fluctuate between being overly eager to hear about someone, nod a lot, smile, jump from one topic to the next, feeling anxious, not spending enough time delving into things, and maybe come across as fast-paced and scattered (this can especially happen if I drink too much coffee).
    Other times, often if I have a lot on my mind, I can feel a little tired, “checked out,” uninterested, and just give one-word responses, which I’m assuming could make me come across as kind of a jerk…
    So there’s these two sides to me that don’t feel like a very consistent character.
    I have a hard time motivating myself to get into that social mindset sometimes because I feel like I am consumed with myself. I think I feel consumed with myself because I am not satisfied with my character– I know I can do better. I’m a little embarrassed about who I am as a person to be honest. Sometimes I get consumed with my own personal issues! There is some depression mixed in there too, and if I feel depressed, I will sometimes be very avoidant of social situations.

    I want to work on these things, and I find your advice helpful. Thank you.

    Reply
    • I feel exactly the same way (except for cofee, which i rarely drink) when i talk to people i feel like ask too many questions without giviving enough info about me, also i m going too fast thru the conversation without giving enough time to one subject.

      Reply
  12. I usually shy away from small talks at work especially because I usually end up over sharing about myself to fill in the silence. If I ask questions, usually get short or one word answers.

    I would also like to learn how to best respond or react to hostile work colleagues.

    Reply
  13. I really enjoy learning your techniques on how to be more social. I would like to learn the best way to respond to someone at work that is demeaning and condescending.

    Reply
  14. Hi David, greetings.

    I would like to learn how to not sabotage my successes. I usually don’t believe in myself even when am doing great in a conversation. A feeling inside me will just make me stop being awesome when I try to narrate an incident, I always freeze and stop early.

    So I can talk to someone for a few mins to make them comfortable and open up. They will keep talking because I show great interest in whatever they are saying but when I try to talk back and tell a story story they get bored and I immidately sense it and we go into awkward silence. I hate this because my glory is short lived except in a case where the other person talk a lot and I just listen and show interest.

    So I need to learn how to truly be comfortable around people. Truth being told I live being alone. That’s when I feel 100% confident and have lots of ideas come into my mind. I need to transfer my awesomeness when alone to when around people.

    This is because I always feel like an imposter marking people feeling I like being around them and a good listener but truly I love my space.

    How can I break out of this habit?

    Reply
  15. I want good and interesting conversations. I want that I and also the other person both have a good time. I want to learn something about them and even have more friendships rising out of it. The most important thing that annoys me, is that quite often, especially with virtual chats like whatsapp, conversations just happen to end from the other side. They just don’t answer me anymore. Having like a good ending our outro would make a difference for me. Something like, alright, gotta go know. Cya. I just feel annoyed about that. The rest is just getting better overall with convos and I think I have already improved drastically.

    Reply
  16. I m scared to sound boring even though I know I’m not, I’m a funny person but these days people seem sensitive about everything they take everything seriously and “having fun “ for them is laughing at other people look or body.wich I don’t like cause I Still do have a savage hormonal acne that cover up all my face so I know how it feels like to get laughed at .i never showed my feelings to others that’s why sometimes people think that i am mean and they don’t want to talk to me .but I think that they don’t make make a difference between someone who has a strong personality and someone who is mean.

    Reply
  17. Hey guys,

    First I want to thank David for being so willing to help people!
    Second, I wanted to share my biggest social insecurity; I too often walk away from conversations worried that I said the wrong things or that my friends or acquaintances will think badly about me. I’m becoming great friends with someone I go to college with but almost every time I say goodbye to him, all I can think about is the things I might’ve done wrong.

    Reply
  18. I just wanted to thank you so much! Your emails and videos have not only gotten me out of my comfort zone but have given me the strength to keep conversations going and building real relationships. I was extremely timid and shy, and because of this I was trapped in anxiety and people always thought I didn’t want to be around them. After some practice, the conversations maybe awkward at first because your not comfortable yet but trust the process and keep going you got this! I also recommend the book The Charisma Myth. Thank you again!

    Reply
  19. I want to thank you for your emails David. I have found that random strangers will talk to me on the bus or train and tell me their life story. But I in my everyday life I have trouble making small talk and asking the right questions. My questions are either too awkward or strong, or too shallow. I would like to improve on this because if I can get someone to open up and start talking they will open up to me.

    Reply
  20. Hi David,

    I moved to new country to join my partner two years ago and I haven’t met many friends.
    I know I did many things wrong but I was also struggling with mental health so it wasn’t easy journey for me.

    My therapist suggested I should step out of my shell and open up a little more.

    My problem is that I am a good listener. I know how to get closer to people, make them comfortable and ask personal questions. What happen next is that same people like me and want me around but often I don’t get the same attention from them. It’s like the other side gets addicted on attention I give them and they don’t even give me time and space to express myself.
    Everyone wants to feel valued and get some attention and I don’t get that. That’s why I loose interest.
    Is there any method to deal with this kind of relationships?

    Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • I greatly appreciate all the videos you put out, and I am trying to put them to use. I really would like to learn more about getting around awkward silence I don’t have many interests to fall back on.

      Reply
  21. Great advice for making conversation more personal , but I first need to get the conversation going at all. I’m a very nice person, I think I look okay like My clothes are in style enough and I present myself well appearance-wise, but so socially awkward that people steer clear of me. (I may be imagining this sometimes).
    Two things that I need to work on so that they don’t avoid me :
    1) Voice modulation. I am so excited to talk , that I talk really loud. Especially at a loud event. But I talk unnecessarily loud. I also have trouble focusing because I’m nervous so I don’t know what they said.
    2) Dignity. If I act so excited that they are talking to me , they might think I’m nuts. I need to calma down.
    Any advice to remember to relax / get myself to relax and focus ?

    Reply
  22. I want to learn to be more open about myself and not be afraid of what the other person thinks about it and not be afraid of making mistakes.
    I also want to learn to be more interested in what the other person has to say. usually when someone tells me something, I only respond with ‘ok’, because I don’t really care.
    I am also extremely shy, I say almost nothing. I am sometimes too scared to say hello. It gets very busy in my head and I can’t think logically anymore.
    I’m not shy with my family, I’m just myself there

    Reply
  23. Anyone know how to stop your brain from disliking someone instantly because of their face nothing to do with how good looking or ugly they are just a vibe about them and features of their face that sends to say ass hole , I seem to have people think that about me as well or is it people pick up I don’t like them it’s A horrible situation I’ve had for years , probably goes back to been bullied in school , help !! Ps the only thing that seems to stop this feeling is booze but then I drink to oblivion and that’s terrible in itself isn’t being human shit at times !

    Reply

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