Getting Back in the Small Talk Swing

small talk

Today’s big idea is that for some of us –maybe more of us that you might realize–the idea of getting back out there and mingling with folks post quarantine is feeling a little scary. Whether you’re still feeling some Covid anxiety–could the person you’re talking to have it? Or whether you’re just feeling like your social skills have atrophied over the last year. So let’s talk about how to make small talk even when it feels like you’re the Tin Min and your jaw has gotten rusty.

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You know there are all kinds of people we haven’t been talking to in the last year

Fellow parents at school pick up. People in line at the post office. Your hair dresser. The other people in your yoga class or at the gym. Maybe the folks at your church. It’s a lot of little interactions that we haven’t been having. Which, maybe you’re thankful for–after all, not everyone likes small talk. But those little relationships we haven’t been engaging in add up to a significant loss. Now’s our chance to rebuild our web of community–seeing it this way might help inspire you to see being around and talking to people you kind of know even though it might feel awkward.

Another thing that can help is to remember that everyone’s a little rusty, and tired, and anxious now. When you’re talking with someone, it’s a good idea just to call it out–wow, my social skills are feeling rusty! I’m not even sure what to say! Is a good ice breaker. It’s certainly going to lower the stakes, and you won’t have to worry about pretending to be more confident than you are. It will let the other person off the hook, too. 

Another good small talk strategy is to pay a compliment

Particularly on something the person is wearing or something they said, not something about their physical self because that can be a little intimate. You know, something like, hey, those are cute shoes goes a long way toward making conversation feel easy. In turn, you can also wear something that is remarkable–like a hat or a pin or a festive scarf–a little trick I’ve learned as an introvert who feels funny about starting a conversation but will happily respond to someone who initiates one. 

Also, keep in mind that now the pandemic has given us something we can all talk about collectively-and that is, what shows have you been watching? Nothing like Netflix to spur a conversation!

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to find a way to either own the awkwardness, pay a non-personal compliment, or swap show recommendations with someone you don’t know all that well. Doing a little bit of the thing that scares you in a low-stakes situation is called exposure therapy, and it’ll be you doing your part to help us all come back together after hiding in our respective homes for the past year. 

Come back next week!

When we’re going to revisit your anti-racism efforts. Did you actually read the books that everyone was buying? Let’s just check in on how that’s going, see if we can keep the momentum up. I’m excited about these episodes, and hope you’ll tune in. 

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