That’s How you make Small Talk!

Small talk! A thing that can induce an instant anxiety in most people. An absolutely uncomfortable social norm which is slowly making its way into our lives. The more socially adept people do not have to worry about the tinge of nervousness this ritual can bring with itself. But for the socially awkward people, it can get pretty intimidating.

But like everything in life, there are hacks to making small talk with people.

We asked the TEDx Dharamshala tribe to tell us what their favourite small talk topic was and the suggestions here will sure help you get rid of some of the awkwardness.

But, before that. Let’s talk about the how-to and the do’s and don’ts of small talk. Small talk is not a ritual in the literal sense so there are no right or wrong things. But look at it as kind of a guide that tries to help you with getting over the hesitation.


If you find it difficult to make conversations with people, chances are you are already pretty good at observing things. That is your jackpot right there. A common problem with most people is the inability to figure out what they should talk about. But if you can observe what people around you are up to, you can find your way around it.

“I get so incredibly awkward while talking to new people. But I have this skill of observing what they’re up to. It happened incidentally for a couple of times but after that I started using it. I observe what someone is doing and then say something relevant so that the context is already established. If a person’s reading a book, that’s my jackpot. But even other than that, if they’re confused in a colour, I just make a suggestion with a smile and it works most of the times.”, says Apurva Sheel, a TEDx Dharamshala enabler.

small talk--observe

But do it in a non-creepy way.

So right there, observing what people are up to is one way of getting the awkwardness of the small talk out of the way.

Ask Questions

Small talk happens mostly between strangers. And no stranger is going to appreciate a comment you make. So, ask questions. But be careful to ask the right kind of question.

With small talks, closed questions won’t get you very far but the open-ended questions can open doors for you. Small talks are not supposed to be meaningful but there are no rules, remember? So ask questions that invite conversations. If you’re at the airport, ask someone whether they’re heading off to a vacation or just another work trip and you can take it from there.

Don’t generalise

Don’t you find it annoying when someone starts talking to you about the weather or randomly starts asking about your family? Do not be that annoying person. Of course, it won’t come naturally to you to know what the next person does and does not like but take the wild guess that they do not want to talk about the wind outside.

And when all else fails, there’s F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Game of Thrones.

Initiate small talk with

And now, let’s go through the suggestions that TEDx tribe shared with us!

  1. Zodiacs!
  2. “Can we skip the small talk?”
  3. Compliments. Even if it doesn’t start a conversation, you’ll put a smile on someone’s face.
  4. Criticize the system
  5. Would you rathers!
  6. Dogs. Or animals in general.
  7. “How was your day?” You’d be surprised how deep conversations it can initiate if you get the right response.
  8. Food.
  9. “What would be your secret superpower?”
  10. “If you weren’t here, what would you be doing right now?”

Do you have more small talk topics you think everyone should know? Tell us and we’ll spread the word!

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