David Morin

How to Get Past The Small Talk And Start Bonding (Video of Conversations Between Actual 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 basically 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

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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Comments (78)

  1. Anonymous

    Dear David,
    I am unable to join in to existing conversations easily. As a Doctor, I am not the super intellectual type, but I work very hard and crave making friends outside of my work. So, when a gathering does come up, I am usually late and must “join in”.

    I usually have to invite myself to a table, and am not good at “breaking in”.

    It is easier with other Drs, but there I am back with my own kind. Any ideas?

    Sandra

  2. Jordan

    What I want to improve in is just starting a good conversation. A few days ago I wanted to talk to a boy i really looked up too. But every attempt lead me to an anxiety attack.

    I kept thinking, “What if i mess up?” “What if I seem to obsessed?” “What if I make a blunder of myself?”

    That day actually brought me here, so I can try to improve myself from:
    1. Never having another social anxiety attack.
    2. Being able to talk to the people I want too, properly.

  3. Shawn

    sorry I missed the reply

    I know this is a little off topic by I’m an introvert who has difficulty fitting in with a group of really extroverted people in school. I’ve been trying to fit in with them for almost 3yrs now and nothing seems to be working. HELP !!!

  4. Robert

    I’d like to get better at approaching new people, start a conversation and bond.

    • M

      I kind of want to improve at what all these people have said in the comments. Because of that I also want to improve on how to always bring my self esteem up, and to not always bring it down. By the way thank you David and Viktor for all the help you are giving!

  5. Sam

    I just want to be relaxed when talking to people, and not feel like there is a voice shoving me down in my head as I do so. I want to be comfortable.

  6. Biju

    I’m from the other side of the spectrum and I have no problems talking to people or opening up conversations. Yet here in Scandinavia I struggle quite a bit because most people are reserved. I do my best to open conversations also get people to open up and share their experiences. Yet in Scandinavia it takes more than a year to become close friends, if not more.

    A note to shy and RESERVED people is to at least take a few steps forward once the extrovert has asked 3 questions to you in an attempt to open the conversation. If you think the extrovert needs to ask you 10 questions before you become curious, then I’m sorry that’s a tough ask.

    I hope David’s videos help RESERVED people realize they need to unreserve a bit so that there is opportunity for both sides to converse.

    • David Morin

      Thank you for your wonderful and supportive comments to everyone on the blog Biju. Your perspective is very interesting.

    • Riki Brown

      My bank account is empty. How am I supposed to do anything? Nobody listens to what I have to say… Everyone want to lie and be lied to. So if lies are what they want… I suppose.

      It’ll be great fun to watch the confusion go on forever.

  7. Matthew

    This is something in particular that I struggle with as most of the time conversations I have are quite superficial and don’t get that deep or meaningful. Not to say that this occurs every time though.

    • Riki Brown

      Don’t talk to boring asses. Donkeys only speak in the animated movies. You should just dance instead.

  8. Tomas

    David!

    When it comes to start making conversation, I almost don’t have any issues when avoiding small talk by asking about the person’s relationship to the subject. Although it is difficult sometimes for me to ask the “right” questions when I don’t know if we have anything in common or which interesting questions I should ask to let the conversation continue.

  9. Jo

    I want to be able to start and keep the conversation going. Also how to respond to random comments.

    • Riki Brown

      Give a random answer. Duh. Hehe JK. Respond however you feel. If you feel silent. Be silent. If you wish to do something, do it. You are free to do as you wish, whenever you like.

  10. Emil

    Hello David! Thank you for your very wise lessons so far! I would like to be better at contacting girls I do not know, at a bar or via the internet. How to start a smooth conversation?

    • Riki Brown

      Girls are a Pandora’s box to me. I’ll crack the case eventually. If I do it on my own I’ll take everything for myself. I’ve earned it.

  11. Anonymous

    Hi, this helped me a lot. Something I would like to get better at is when it comes to conversation ,how I can stop over-thinking stuff and how to stop being too shy to go up to people. Everyday, there is always someone I really want to talk to but I don’t have the guts to because something is holding me back. I guess I’m just terrified of the outcome and how they will view me after. When I talk to people I usually stutter either from not knowing what to say or just being really scared at that moment.

  12. Sven

    Hi!

    That was a good question. I have never thought about what I would like to improve specifically when it comes to having a conversation. I do have some problems with conversations dying out because I do not know what to say. I have watched your video about that problem and I think you have helped med a lot! Thanks for that! I would like to be able to make the person I’m talking to feel comfortable. I want him or her to feel good around me and that he or she can trust me. Basically, I want to avoid awkardness.

    David, what do you think about filtering out stuff to say in your mind that you think may sound stupid or inappropriate. Is that a good or bad thing to do?

  13. Anonymous

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your information and your video. These sound like great tips. I hope to give them a try – and become successful in even making a friend or two, or at least have people enjoy talking with me.

    Debbie

  14. Kristoffer

    I want to improve avoiding overthinking too much in the conversation, which often leads to a more nervous and more tense me. When the muscles are tense, Your voice and how you respond automatically gets worse and people “smell” it and just vanish…..I also want to have better reponses. Sometimes I feel, the people I speak to just turns quiet because I might try to sound too “smart” or it’s too obvious. It awkwards people out:(

  15. Tanvi

    Your videos are being a great help. Thank u. Now I wanted to tell that there are some people who are naturally great conversationalist. My problem is that I feel a little discomfort while talking to such people,because as they start to listen and pay attention to what I’m talking… I start going blank. I feel weak. I feel a sudden confidence loss. So I need your help to improve this. Thank you again for help.

  16. Marquis

    this was a great blog and video. I will definitely use this to be a better conversationalist and be more open and comfortable talking to people.

    • David Morin

      That’s great to hear Marquis!

  17. Rob

    People often lose interest quickly as I’m telling stories during conversation…I’d like to improve that if I can

  18. Anonymous

    I just want to have deep, non-awkward conversations with people I meet without the nerves. This has been a life-long struggle for me and I want to change that.

    • Melissa

      My name is Melissa by the way. I came up as anonymous.

  19. Victor

    I want to be able to keep a conversation going and to stop just asking what’s the next class or what did your get in question 2 and start talking about funny things

    I want also to be able to enter and be accepted in groups of people that already know themselves for long time and to stop being treated as child/inferior by the other because of my social skills..

    • David Morin

      Thank you for sharing Victor! Keep going!

      • Victor

        So… I said i want to do that
        But I don’t have a clue about how to do it and my social anxiety already caused me depression
        Do you have any ideas on how can i improve?

  20. Aditi Arora

    Hey David!
    I really like the way you explain everything.
    I am introvert person. And i have the same problems like I don’t know how to keep the conversation going and even if i like that person, I Have difficulty in making deep connnections with them. I want to work on my self.
    Some times i go blank while talking to a person, like i don’t understand what to say next. I feel empty at that time which leads to awkward silence.
    I don’t have self confidence, i feel everything i say is either dumb or funny. I feel shy speaking about my thing.
    So, people consider me boring because i dont speak and i have nothing exciting to share.
    Sorry, i have so many problems. 😀
    I am a very funny person from inside. But these small problems affect a lot to be honest.
    I want to be like others. “Extrovert and fun loving”.

  21. Nicholas

    This is eye opening. Thanks David. It’s interesting that asking about someone’s relationships to ideas helps one to build actual relationship with the person you’re talking to. Something I’d definitely practice! Thanks a million!

  22. Jane

    I want to be heard when I speak in a group conversation. I feel like I’m invisible! I don’t know if I’m not loud enough (many of my friends are REALLY loud!), or just plain boring and they dismiss whatever I have to say, or just so self-absorbed that they don’t care what I have to say and just want to keep talking about themselves endlessly. Any ideas??? Thanks!

    • Viktor Sander

      Loud and chaotic group conversations can be really hard to get into. Normal social rules like letting everyone speak their mind and not interrupting does not always apply, it’s more about enjoying the energy and feel of the conversation. We sometimes have to accept that a group conversation can never be as deep and intellectually stimulating as a one on one. So try taking it more for what it is and just have fun with your friends, don’t be afraid to interrupt from time to time if you have something fun to say.

      To relax more and actually find something to say, try focusing more on the conversation and what the other people are saying, instead of trying to come up with something to say. Ironically, that usually helps in coming up with what to say.

  23. Tia

    I rlly need new friends but I really don’t know how to approach strangers specially when i’m in a room with groups of friends talking together , I feel so lonely. 🙁

    • Viktor Sander

      That’s a tough one, I feel with you Tia.

      What kind of situation is it you’re thinking about? Is it like a new class where you don’t know anyone or more of a party where you got some acquaintances?

    • Biju

      If they are standing alone or looking lost, they too are looking for friends. You should listen to the OFC podcast and apply that to them. Think of it like you are helping them make friends, this will also add a goal to your life – Helping people like you, by helping yourself.

  24. Amanda

    I want to improve my cordial intercourse. I have not spent time with someone after school for over two years. I really need your help!

  25. Malin

    I feel like Andrei, I don’t want to talk about my personal life because every inch of it makes me sad. And I don’t want to make other people depressed while talking to me. So I pretend to be happy and superficial. Maybe ask strangers for personal advice? Talk about dreams and hopes for the future?

  26. Noami

    Can you suggest me some superficial question??

    • Biju

      Be curious don’t be superficial. If you approach a stranger start with “are you from around here?” Now be prepared with a second and third question as a follow up. Like if they say I just moved here, you can ask where they lived before and why they moved. Be curious about people and ask slightly personal questions. You can even precede the questions by saying “hope you don’t mind me asking”

  27. Classy

    I’m not really good at starting conversations. And finding what to say😫

    • The first step is always to identify what you need to improve, so good job Classy. 1 step at a time. 🙂

  28. Andrei

    I am afraid about revealing facs about myself that I am not proud of. What I am saying is that I am not comfortable with where I am in my life right now, therefore I have trouble being personal with people. Yet I do desire closeness.

    • Biju

      Be curious don’t be superficial. If you approach a stranger start with “are you from around here?” Now be prepared with a second and third question as a follow up. Like if they say I just moved here, you can ask where they lived before and why they moved. Be curious about people and ask slightly personal questions. You can even precede the questions by saying “hope you don’t mind me asking”

  29. Randy

    To overcome the fear of talking out,I know this stuff yet I cannot give correct questions to carry,there I stuck

  30. Maria

    Hi
    I’m 47 and for a long time now I’ve got really really panicky when it comes to even meeting friends, and even ones I’ve known a long time . Going for an interview , basically I panic and worry about what to say, and would love to be able to find chat Easy and not worry or panic . And to stop being Soo nervous about it .. I have to push myself sooo hard to do things .. It’s making my life hard

    • Hi Maria, glad to have you with us! Just saying that you want to improve is the first step, I hope you will find our videos and articles helpful on your journey 🙂

  31. one

    I want to improve my social skills, I feel I can meet new people but I cannot connect with them, so finally it end up in a superficial relationship and even when I meet people I feel lonely.

    • I believe in you! Have you tried any of the techniques or principles David mentioned in the video?

  32. bernadine

    I feel I can be awkward to talk to in new situations and I wanted to see how to do it in a way that makes me and them comfortable.

    • David Morin

      Good one. That’s definitely possible to get better at!
      David

  33. Linus

    At first i thought SUPERFICIALLY that this video and lesson is the same as the one You sent on Jan 6,
    then i carefully compared the two and saw the new lesson
    Yes people i converse with do not like me if i act like a nerd
    i need this course to make them like me at such times
    Also i have found that when people around me feel blue they JUST CLAM UP and don’t talk to me
    But WHEN i felt blue i longed for someone to talk to to get out of it
    i FEEL the problem is to get talking with them in the right way
    i need lessons for this

  34. Vivian

    Hi david thankyou for what you do :)Well an issue I have is sometimes I want to say experiences I have had and people lose interest and I tend to forget where I was at and stumble and say and then or well .Please help me be confident in saying my stories without feeling inferior and getting nervous if they do

    • David Morin

      Hi Vivian, that’s something many others have struggled with as well and then made great progress. Check out the coming emails, I think you’re going to find them helpful 🙂
      David

  35. Abdulkadir sheriff

    Thanks alot David, that was a nice video and I learned alot. I have this issue of going blank while conversating with my friends and it sucks because I feel there’s more to say but I find it difficult to speak or say something funny. Would be grateful if u could be of help.

    • David Morin

      In my next email I’ll talk about a method you can use when conversations hit a wall. It works very well when you head goes blank. Glad to have you on board 🙂

  36. Kearsten

    I’d like to learn how to be less serious and more open when having conversations… more “energetic” when talking to people.

  37. Cristina

    I’d like to get better at asking certain types of questions at the appropriate time in a conversation. Sometimes I just don’t know what to say; my mind literally goes blank, and I get nervous. I want to learn how to move past this nervousness and be completely comfortable when talking with anyone, and in any setting.

  38. Nick K

    Hi David, I really enjoyed the small talk video that you posted! I have a similar comment to what Mathis said. I want to be more at ease and relaxed, I feel as if my mind races automatically and there is very little space for the current moment, and that usually produces anxiety. The strange thing is, I am beginning to feel that with my close friends. Intellectually I know what I am doing wrong, but often I can’t help but feel like I am hitting a wall for one reason or the other. Anyway, that’s my two cents. Thank you for all your good advice!

    • David Morin

      Hi Nick!

      My next email will be about how to avoid conversations hitting a wall, think you’ll like it!
      David

  39. STEPHEN I BROWNLEE

    Hey David,

    Cool video! Aside from what you covered in this video, I would like to
    get better at sharing myself more. I have a hard time being vulnerable
    and sharing what’s personal to me.

    • David Morin

      Hi Stephen!
      That’s a great insight, a lot of people struggle with that but don’t realize that they need to open up more. I’m planning on doing a coming Q&A email about that soon.

  40. Pan

    Hi, your video was quite helpful and well structured with good real life examples.
    My main problems (which possibly aren’t the exact topics you’re addressing) are that I can never feel like myself around people, even though I try to be honest and open in conversations. I generally always feel like I want to run away and hide, and I can’t wait until I can be on my own again and not having to deal with people.

    • David Morin

      Hi Pan!
      People often describe this to me like they have to “put on a mask” when they’re around others, so I can tell you that you’re not alone feeling like this! If you’re on our email list I’ll be talking more about that feeling in a few weeks time.

      • Pan

        Great, thanks for replying. I’ll look forward to it.

  41. Pete

    I forget names easily

  42. Matt79

    I’m not having a problem knowing what to say really, and I think my conversations flow pretty well. But I’m uncertain when I’m at the point where I’m talking too much. I’d like to be able to know when people have had enough of me 🙂

    • David Morin

      We’ll be talking about how to balance conversations the coming weeks 🙂

  43. maria

    my goal is to just get at least 1 new friend. im tired of being lonely. it just feels like nobody has any time to meet up anymore 🙁

    • René

      hey maria i can be your friend ! Let’s put in practice what we learn here in SocialPro .

      • Gabi

        Hi René, good idea. Can I practise with you too?

  44. Sarah K

    The thing I’d like to improve is to findd a natural way to get a conversation going. Conversations just fizzle out and I don’t know what to say.

  45. Mathis D

    I just want to be more at ease and to be able to enjoy meeting new people. I think Im pretty relaxed with my old friends, but I just seem to blank out with anyone I dont know.