3 Tips for Successful Small Talk
BY: KELLY JOY FJESTAD
Growing up, I thought being an extrovert was a good thing and being an introvert was a bad thing. I was always taught an extrovert was outgoing, friendly, and a lot of fun — and an introvert was quiet, shy, and timid.
Anytime I had to take a personality quiz, I would try to pick the answers that would make me an extrovert. I thought that was what I was supposed to be — and if it says it on a piece of paper, then it must be true!
It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned the deeper definitions of extrovert and introvert.
Extroverts are people who are energized by the world around them. They love parties and being with people. It is where they draw their energy from. If they go too many days without social interaction, they will begin to notice a drop in their energy levels.
Introverts, on the other hand, are energized by time alone. In fact, they enjoy being alone. They draw their energy by having time to think by themselves or do something by themselves. If they go too many days without time alone, they will become overwhelmed.
There is nothing right or wrong about being an introvert versus an extrovert. In fact, the truth is most people are not 100-percent either one, but just have a tendency to lean more often in one direction.
Honestly, I probably sit very close to the middle of the scale. I am recharged by time alone, but I thrive on meeting new people and being part of a group. However, meeting new people is not a skill that comes easily to me. It is something I have had to work on over the years.
Even the strongest of introverts are going to experience times when they need to reach out and meet new people. But, it can be scary and intimidating!
I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt alone in a large group. There are dozens of people to talk to, but none of them are talking to me! I had to learn to fight off the feelings of rejection and inadequacy — and instead, I had to be proactive in learning how to build relationships through small talk.
I want to share with you some of the things that helped me to become more confident in building relationships.
Here are Three Tips to Successful Small Talk:
1. Compliment Others
Complimenting someone is an easy way to start a conversation. Look for something you like about them. Do they look nice today? What are they wearing that stands out to you? Are they wearing a cute dress? Cute shoes? New glasses? Did they spend extra time on their hair or their makeup? Maybe they just won an award or got a promotion at work. Perhaps you saw their vacation pictures on social media. If you see something good, say something good! If you notice something you like about someone, tell them!
Begin to look for the good. Proverbs 11:27 says, “The one who searches for what is good seeks favor.” Try to find something you like in every person you meet. It might seem hard right away, but I promise, it will get easier!
I fully believe if God allows you to notice something good in someone, He also intends for you to encourage them with that information. You don’t know when you will compliment someone who is barely making it through the day and your encouragement could be just what they need to keep going.
2. Be the First One to Speak
Don’t wait for other people to talk to you before you talk to them. Be bold. Be brave. Take the first step. I know this is a stretching thought for a lot of people, but it is OK to initiate a conversation. Find someone at work and ask them how their day is going. Look for someone at church you don’t know and go introduce yourself.
If you are always waiting for people to talk to you, it might never happen. It isn’t that people don’t want to talk to you. It is more likely people are self-focused and didn’t notice you were feeling alone.
Push through those feelings of insecurity. It is likely that many other people in the room are feeling the same way. YOU can be the one to step out and meet that need in their life! YOU can be the one who shows love and kindness to the lonely and rejected. YOU can be used by God to speak life into those around you!
3. Don’t Waste Moments
I know this is the one that is going to make some of you run away screaming! The thought of talking to someone in an elevator might make you want to lose your lunch — but stay with me for a minute.
I believe every interaction we have with someone is an opportunity for God to use us. God doesn’t always work on our schedule. In fact, often when Jesus performed a miracle, he was interrupted from what he was already doing.
Don’t waste the moments God puts into your life! Talk to the cashier as she’s checking out your groceries. Ask him about his day. Has the store been busy today? Does she have much longer on her shift? Has he worked here a long time? Use those moments to brighten someone’s day.
If you are using a public restroom and an employee is in there cleaning, tell them they are doing a great job! Thank them for cleaning! Tell them how necessary their job is. Recognize them and the work they are doing. So often we walk right past people that are serving us without even acknowledging them. Use those opportunities to speak life into people.
Talk to people in the elevator. Say "good morning" when you pass someone on your morning walk. Acknowledge the good people are doing. Thank them when they are a blessing in your life. You never know what relationships will form. Maybe you won’t become best friends with the janitor, but maybe you will.
Every relationship starts with a single conversation. You don’t know which conversations will turn into lifelong friendships and which ones are just a passing moment in the day. Treat every opportunity as a gift from God. Be bold. Be brave. Speak first. Compliment and encourage. And watch how God will use you in the lives of others!
Kelly is a wife and mother of five children living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is an ordained minister and author of PAUSED: Protecting Your Faith When God Says "Wait" and Pursuit: The Cross. For more info visit: kellyjoy.org