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.

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