Cocktail Party Conversation: The Etiquette of Small Talk

Source: The Huffington Post

The definition of small talk includes both light conversation and idle banter. Small talk is what people say to one another to be social. It breaks the ice. By asking general questions and giving answers, people connect. Small talk is not in-depth conversation, but rather an exchange of social niceties. A lot is written about the importance of grooming and proper dress, but if we can't make intelligent conversation it won't matter how we look once we open our mouths.
Many people feel right home in the office but are uncomfortable in the social arena for fear of making small talk, especially with potential clients or new friends. If you find small talk a big challenge, it's important to realize that all it really takes is a little preparation. George Bernard Shaw said, "One way to be popular is to listen attentively to a lot of things you already know."
What are some ways to make small talk?

What are some ways to make small talk?
• Be well informed. Read at least one daily newspaper, weekly news magazine, or Internet news page.
• A good conversation requires more listening than talking. If you forget names, it helps to repeat the person's name a few times in conversation.
• If self-confidence is your issue, practice in front of a mirror. Smile, use good eye contact, and imagine Cary Grant staring back at you.
• Before going to an event, read the headlines of the day, including the sports page. Current events are perfect for small talk.
• Ask the other person about him- or herself. People are flattered to be asked and love to talk about themselves.
• Be ready for a conversational pause and be ready to fill the void.
• Focus on safe topics such as current events, new restaurants, hobbies, movies, mutual family or friends, and sports.

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