8 Ways to Get Better at Small Talk

Are you socially awkward? Terrible with names? A motor mouth when you’re nervous?

Use these easy-to-follow tips to start and sustain interesting (two-sided) conversations with new and old acquaintances alike.
By: Gretchen Rubin

Small talk is a big problem for many adults with ADHD, who tend to fall into one of two camps: we’re chatterboxes who don’t let other people get in a word, or we struggle to maintain attention and conversational banter – leading to a lot of awkward silences.

Whatever the challenge, use these strategies to keep the conversation flowing, balanced, and fun.

Ask about a shared interest or circumstance.

Talking about the weather is a cliché for a reason, folks. Some good questions include: “How do you know the host?” or “How long have you lived locally?”

Comment on a topic of general interest.

Do a quick scan of a newspaper before a big event to give yourself some ideas. (If it’s the first time you’re meeting someone, try to steer clear of politics or religion.)

Ask open-ended questions.

One good question is: “What’s keeping you busy these days?” It allows people to choose their focus (work, volunteering, family, hobbies), instead of restricting them to one subject.

Ask follow-up questions.

Instead of jumping in and talking about your own work, ask for more info. Some good questions include: “How long have you been working there? or “What got you interested in the field?”

Ask getting-to-know-you questions.

“Which magazines do you subscribe to?” or “What do you do for fun?” may reveal a hidden passion, which makes a great conversation.

React to what a person says in the spirit in which it was offered.

If he makes a good-matured joke, laugh — even if it’s not very funny.

Follow their lead.

If someone obviously drops a reference to a subject, pick up that thread, even if you’re not particularly interested. You may be surprised!

Conversely, don’t talk about your favorite topic – unless asked.

You’ll likely be tempted to talk too much and dominate the conversation.

Shane Drumm

Shane is an Agile Project Manager who specialises in digital web projects. He has worked with numerous distributed teams in Asia, Europe, US and Australia. In his spare time, enjoy travelling, cycling, digital start-up ventures and hustling to help other business owners with their digital presence. Find out more about Shane on shanedrumm.com and please reach out and connect with Shane on LinkedIn.


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