I’ve always struggled making small talk with people, and I think my social life has suffered because of it. I want friends, I really do, but I just don’t know how to do it. If I continue down this path of self destruction because of my loneliness, I feel as if it won’t be good. I really need some help.
Ah, small talk… it can be so annoying yet so useful to break the ice and meet new people. Friend, many of us struggle with this and it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I’ve personally struggled with this for so long, and still sometimes depending on the circumstances, and I’ve missed many opportunities just because of this. But good news is that you can definitely learn to work on this! It’s a matter of understanding a bit how communication works, how to interpret others reactions and saying, but also to get out of our comfort zone temporarily.
When I struggle with small talk, I tend to have racing thoughts in my mind and it stresses me a LOT, which leads me to not saying anything at all. I found that something useful, at first, is to try to let others engage the conversations, then to stick to two simple things:
- To convey the conversation to the person you’re talking to with generic questions such as “when/why/where/what/with who…?”; “have you ever…? what do you think about…?”.
- To put yourself in the conversation with references to personal experiences, personal thoughts or opinions, links you can make with similar subjects or situations…
Over time, with practice, it gets easier and really natural. It’s about showing interest in what the other person is saying but also to share a bit about yourself (it doesn’t have to be intimate or anything).
Also, I think humor has some really positive effects for small talk (but also in many others situations). I was the kind of person super shy a few years ago and I still surprise myself as now I’m more the one who makes stupid jokes to make people smile, even with strangers. Taking public transports gave me many opportunities to talk with random people and, over time, I found that I actually enjoy this!
You can try some small exercises with everyday situations. For example, you go buy some bread or I don’t know. Well, try to take the time to practice small talk at the same time. You can improvise anything, even really short things, such as: “I wish you a wonderful day and a happy new year”, “I really love how your shop looks like”, “It seems like it’s gonna be a sunny day today!” (…). There’s nothing stupid in saying all of this and you can do it, step by step.
You got this, friend! Just take it easy. Learning is always a slow process that can take some time. You’re absolutely capable do to this! Hold fast.