While there are many misconceptions out there regarding introverts, you can establish and cultivate meaningful friendships while keeping a healthy energy balance so you don’t feel overwhelmed. To begin a great friendship, it’s important to learn the art of small talk.
If you are like me, sometimes small talk seems pointless or irrelevant. With that said, it’s an important component to communication because it helps you build a bridge to connect with others. Therefore, it’s important to know the value of small talk, even if you haven’t had success with it in the past. Here are some tips to help you with this process.
- Make sure you keep your focus on the conversation at hand. While the topic may seem uninteresting to you, to the other person or people in the group it could be.
- Learn the art of asking open ended questions, as these allow the conversation to keep flowing in a more natural manner. For example, if someone raves about a movie they just saw, ask them which aspects of the movie they found most appealing.
- You should try to be patient in listening and slow to respond. What I mean by this is sometimes someone may say a comment and immediately you want to respond to it. However, if that person continues to talk and all you think about is your response, you are no longer listening.
Now keep in mind, this art takes much practice and time for you to develop it. As part of this practice, it’s important to understand your limitations. For me, talking to large groups of people all the time can be tiring, so I make it a point to spend more time in small groups where I feel comfortable while occasionally talking to larger groups. The key here is to find a healthy balance between your comfort zone and being able to step out of it. Here are some ways you can achieve this.
First, you should find others that share similar interests by joining a club in college or a community group. This will provide you with the opportunity to make small talk with others. It may not be easy at first to initiate conversation, but keep in mind that these people share the same interests as you. For example, if you joined a book group, a good ice breaker would be to ask someone which authors are their favorite. This immediately takes the focus off you and allows you to learn more about the other person. When you practice small talk with others, it can help you build your confidence as well as help you work on your communication skills.
Next, you shouldn’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone a bit. This doesn’t mean you have to go from speaking with one or two people to speaking with dozens all at once. Say you go to a party, instead of shying away from making conversation or sticking to one friend all night, find someone else and introduce yourself. An applicable conversation starter here would be to ask how they know the person throwing the party. If you attempt this several times over the course of the night, you are more likely to meet new people.
It’s also important that you give yourself time and patience. Take it from me, this won’t be an easy process and you will make mistakes. There may be times where you find your mind drifting during small talk or you may interrupt someone. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up over it. What I do when this occurs is I remember what caused my mistake, learn from it and then go back out and try again.
Further, you shouldn’t wear yourself out in this process. Don’t overextend yourself by trying to do too much. Instead, find situations where you are comfortable in and occasionally step out of your comfort zone. This will make the process more manageable for you.
By following these tips, it can help you build your conversational skills while helping you maintain a level of comfort. From there, you can develop meaningful friendships that over time will allow your conversations to become more complex while building that connection with others.