There are few pleasures in life better than a great conversation. When you truly connect with someone, time stands still, space contracts, and you leave whatever event you were at feeling truly alive. On the other hand, there are few miseries worse than a night of endless small talk.
An evening of surreptitious glances at the bar and awkward silences will leave you as drained and depressed as a night of new friendships will leave you exhilarated. So how do you turn one into the other, moving from small talk drudgery to genuine human connection?
You get better at small talk, obviously -- or to be more accurate you learn how to get beyond small talk and into the realm of real conversation. Quora can help.
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The question-and-answer site crowdsourced wisdom for a user who wanted to know how to get better at small talkgathering useful tips for anyone who wants to grow their circle of connections and make their next event way less boring for all involved. If you want small talk to be more interesting, the surest route is to be more interested in your conversation partner.
Writer Ellen Vrana offers some advice: "Imagine a robot saying 'I find you interesting. Words alone don't work. To convey a genuine sense of interest, you have to emote.
Lean forward. Make eye contact. Show them that you are listening and care. There's absolutely no trick that can make one-word answers exciting, so the only solution is to avoid them.
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It's all about phrasing, insists art director Craig Weiland. If they reply, 'My family,' then you can ask about them, since the other party brought them into this themselves," he elaborates. Talking about the weather or the traffic is the classic example of this strategy, but there are other, less painfully cliched ways to use your environment as a conversational springboard. Software engineer Robert Rapplean suggests "commenting on something in your environment It's a technique that's endorsed beyond Quora as well. On HBR recently, professional speaker and therefore serial event attendee Dorie Clark suggested a variation on this theme.
Psychologist Richard Wiseman wrote about one man with a unique networking strategy; to avoid habitually gravitating to people just like him, he would pick a color in advance and then make a point of seeking out people wearing that color to initiate conversations and make connections he otherwise wouldn't. Small talk can seem pointless and unstructured -- and therefore totally painful -- but most everyone understands both the how and why of teaching. So one trick is to turn an aimless chat into a learning session. Boredom is usually a two-way street.
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If your conversation partner is bored, so are you. But the opposite is also true. If you're having a blast, it's likely others will enjoy talking to you.
So "gamify for your own amusement," suggests social cause marketer Keirsten Lindholm. Before entering an event, she chooses a topic to find out more about and then uses small talk as an opportunity to complete her self-appointed mission. The possibility of more time with one another. If the first principle of good conversation is to be genuinely interested, an important corollary is to be more interesting.
Small talk is only as small as your reservoir of topics and experiences. Expand your store of anecdotes and opinions and you'll expand your conversational possibilities. Finally, don't forget that you're not required to find every human being on the planet interesting it would be weird if you did. The best thing you can do sometimes is cut your losses and end a stalled conversation in order to move on and chat with someone with whom you have more rapport.
No, that's an insult to toast.
Dull as a toaster that doesn't have toast. You won't connect with everyone.
No one does," Vrana reassures readers of the thread. Top Stories. Top Videos. Getty Images. What's your favorite trick for better conversations? Sponsored Business Content.