Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Hi! I'm Kyle Ingham founder of The Distilled Man.

  • And up next we're gonna talk about that thing that so many people dread,

  • small talk.

  • Ahh, small talk.

  • That dreaded small talk.

  • Conversation skills are so important to our interactions with other people.

  • That it's amazing it's not taught in most formal schools.

  • Being able to make small talk and have conversation with someone

  • can make a huge difference in terms of your first impression

  • Whether it's trying to impress that future boss.

  • Whether it's a lady friend who might be someone you're interested in,

  • or whether it's just a good friend who you want to make a good impression on.

  • Being able to make small talk and carry on a conversation can go a long way.

  • "But small talk is awkward, I don't like it!"

  • I know that's what you're thinking right now.

  • But the thing is, life would be a lot more awkward if we didn't have small talk, can you imagine?

  • "Uhh, excuse me, um my name is Bill. Very nice to meet you.

  • I need you to tell me your position on abortion.

  • And tell me your deep seated religious beliefs."

  • Small talk is a necessary evil, but it doesn't have to be evil.

  • Ultimately you'll just have to recognize that it's an entry point for potentially even deeper conversation.

  • With small talk the true goal is rapport.

  • And rapport is that situation where you're talking to the other person

  • and you both kind of forget that you're having small talk.

  • That suddenly things have transitioned past that.

  • You've got a connection of some sort.

  • And the conversation just flows naturally.

  • So the two things that you can do to help improve your chances of having successful small talk are:

  • 1, having a more fundamental connection with that person, and we'll talk about that in general just a second.

  • Number 2, trying to use small talk to find common ground.

  • So how to connect with other people on a more fundamental level?

  • The fact is people make snap judgments about you.

  • Based on how you appear, your attitude, your presence, how you carry yourself, you know, how you dress.

  • But most of all, how you make them feel.

  • And you want people to trust you and feel comfortable around you.

  • So one of the things to do is really look at your attitude and look at your body language

  • Would you just make sure that you've got a positive attitude, first of all

  • and that you've got open body language.

  • And what does that mean?

  • It means squaring off to that person, facing them and really making your body open to them.

  • As being opposed to being closed off,

  • or having your arms folded,

  • or being distracted, you know, looking at your watch all the time or something like that.

  • If you go into that situation and you're maybe not really interested in talking to that person,

  • or if the entire time during the conversation you're just in your head thinking about,

  • "Oh, I'm terrible at small talk, I'm so socially inept."

  • You know, pretty soon you're gonna start picking up on that.

  • And that's not gonna be a good experience for either of you

  • What's interesting too, about making fundamental connections with people,

  • is that people are drawn to people who are like them.

  • Do you ever notice how when you go traveling, say in Europe and you meet somebody from the United States

  • over in Belgium or wherever you are.

  • And immediately you have a connection even if you've never met them.

  • Suddenly the contrast of being around these people speaking in a different language to you

  • and then meeting this person who speaks your same language, has the same sort of cultural vantage point as you do.

  • You have this immediate connection, because they're like you

  • People like people who are like them.

  • So Nicholas Boothman in his book, How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less,

  • talks about this idea of synchronizing with someone.

  • The idea is you're going to try and match up

  • with their tone of voice, their mannerisms to the extent that you can, their posture.

  • I know it sounds a little creepy at first but if you're doing it subtly and you're doing it with

  • the actual intention of doing rapport not just creepily mirroring what they're doing,

  • then ultimately it really will work.

  • At the end of the day, the real purpose of it is just sort of communicate that,

  • "Hey, we're on the same wavelength."

  • So we talked about the first way of creating more of a fundamental

  • connection with a person that helps sort of expedite rapport.

  • The second trick to making small talk work for you, is to think about small talk a little bit differently.

  • To think about it as a way to find common ground.

  • And if you can be patient with small talk for just a little bit,

  • so that you actually do find that common ground, once you do it can be really rewarding.

  • Pretty quickly if you're both playing the game and talking small talk,

  • but knowing you're going to get to something deeper, you might just find that one thing that

  • you're both passionate about.

  • All of a sudden it's no longer small talk.

  • "Oh you like snowboarding as well.

  • I just went and where do you go?"

  • And the conversation just takes off.

  • So when you're with someone you don't want to sort of just ask them random questions.

  • You want to try particularly stay away from closed ended questions that are just going to give you a yes or a no.

  • Like, "Hey, did you go to the movies?" "Yes."

  • or you know, "Are you from Idaho?" "Yes."

  • The conversation just ends there.

  • What you want to do is have open ended questions that really elicit a response, like

  • "What do you think about such and such?" or "Tell me about where you're from?"

  • And that's something that's actually gonna actually lead to a deeper conversation.

  • So you might be wondering, how do I even start a conversation?

  • Especially if it's somebody that I've never talked to before.

  • And there's a very simple formula that you can use

  • and it actually works really well once you're in the conversation as well.

  • And it's the idea of alternating a statement and an open ended question.

  • An easy way to do it is to make a comment about the location or the ground that you're both share.

  • Say you go to some sort of event.

  • And you walk up next to this person and you say,

  • "Gosh, the ballroom really is beautiful. I'm amazed at how heavy those chandeliers must be."

  • And then you transition quickly to an open ended question,

  • "How do you know the Johnsons?"

  • And from there what you've done is, you've sort of disarm them a little bit.

  • You've broken the ice by offering up a comment that they can react to

  • And you've followed it up with a nice open ended question,

  • that's hopefully gonna lead to them explaining

  • how they know the Johnsons, you can talk about how you know the Johnsons.

  • And then pretty soon hopefully the conversation will continue from there.

  • But this rhythm can actually work really well

  • once you've gotten into the conversation.

  • Because a lot of people who don't do as well with conversation and small talk,

  • have heard, "Oh, well I need to ask questions."

  • And so all they do is fire off question after question after question.

  • And if you're in the receiving end of that it can feel a little bit like you're in an interrogation.

  • You don't want that

  • So what you can do is kind of make a statement,

  • follow it up with an open-ended question,

  • and sometimes that statement can be

  • where you're offering up information, because ultimately as you start to build rapport,

  • that's what you're doing is that you're offering a little more information about yourself,

  • they're offering a little more information about themselves,

  • and soon you start to build rapport and you find that common ground.

  • One of the biggest mistakes people make with small talk,

  • this is what really gives small talk a bad rap

  • is when people kind of do the small talk on autopilot thing

  • and this especially happens with say coworkers and when you see each other maybe like after the weekend.

  • "Hey Bill, how's you're weekend?"

  • "Good, yours?"

  • "Fine."

  • "How's the familly?"

  • "Good, yours?"

  • And it's just sort of like this surface level thing that there's no intention of ever

  • kind of making it go deeper and making it into a more interesting conversation.

  • So, again you're always looking for ways to kind of

  • go a level deeper with your conversation.

  • So, even if maybe that your partner in the conversation isn't, doesn't have that agenda

  • or isn't thinking that way.

  • There are ways for you to do that as well.

  • One of the ways is to not only ask open ended questions but to open your response a little bit.

  • Like giving it a little more detail, more richness with your response.

  • So, in the example we just talked about just a second ago with the two coworkers.

  • We're going to do the autopilot small talk.

  • A guy named Marvin Brown in his book, How to Talk to Anyone Anytime... Anywhere...

  • gives sort of an alternate take on how that conversation go.

  • So the coworker says, "How's your weekend?"

  • "It was amazing! You know we took the kids to this amusement park and we rode all the rides.

  • And you know I hadn't been to an amusement park like that in years,

  • the kids had a great time, but I think I may even have more fun.

  • We had cotton candy, we rode all the rides.

  • So by offering up all these rich details, you're actually helping to expand the conversation

  • because you're taking it past that small talk autopilot

  • and giving some meat to the conversation for lack of a better word.

  • So when you're trying to take the conversation deeper,

  • one of the big things you don't want to miss out on is what Nicholas Boothman calls "free information".

  • And these are little nuggets that someone throws out

  • that if you seize a hold on them and follow it up on them would help lead to a deeper conversation.

  • So in his book, Boothman talks about a story of a young man who is on the train

  • and he sees a woman and that he want to go talk to.

  • He was not hitting on her necessarily but he just wants to chat her up and be nice.

  • So he goes and sits next to her.

  • And he says, "Oh hey, I haven't seen you here on the train before."

  • And she said, "Yes, you know I'm new, it's my first time. I'm starting a new job at an ad agency in town."

  • And in response he says,

  • "Oh yeah, you know it's tough to get a seat on the train sometimes at this hour but fortunately you did."

  • And then the conversation sort of peers away.

  • But did you see the free information that he passed on, that he didn't realize was an opportunity?

  • She offered up information that he could have easily followed up on.