Making small talk has never been easy...
Even the most confident social butterflies can struggle with small talk. Whether you're on a date trying to make conversation - or you want to say hi to someone who's just winked at you on Gaydar. We've put together some tips for beating the awkwardness, confusion and stress of small talk - so read on to master the art.
Take The First Step
It's true what they say: the first step is the hardest. Starting a conversation with a complete stranger, based solely on their public gallery and profile is no easy task. But if you're lucky, it could be the first step to a beautiful thing. If you don't take ownership of the situation you're leaving everything down to chance. Who knows, the guy on the other end of the conversation could be waiting for you to make the first move too - so it might never happen (even if you both want it to).
Keep Them Interested In You
Once the conversation does start flowing, make sure you keep a good balance between general chit-chat and finding out about each other. While some people might enjoy getting essays for each message, less is more when it comes to making small talk and this is especially true during the first few conversations. You want to keep your potential suitor interested in you and eager to find out more. That's what will keep them chatting and coming back for more. We don't mean you have to be all mysterious and elusive, just open yourself up slowly and keep things interesting.
Pick Up on Subtle Hints
Sometimes it's necessary to use your intuition and find out what he's really saying. If you're making small talk and it's being met with one word answers perhaps it isn't working out and it's better to move the conversation along. If he's constantly making cheeky remarks and leading the conversation towards more than subtle flirting, his intentions might not be as innocent as yours. Using your emotional intelligence can help you pick up on subtle hints and figure out how to steer the conversation. Did he mention his favourite hobby in passing? Go back and ask him more about it. Maybe he dropped into conversation his backpacking trip around Australia? Ask him about his favourite moment from the whole trip. Using these small bites of information will put you ahead.
Let Them Talk About Themselves
This one is an easy trick to win any conversation. Once you've exchanged pleasantries, ask a question to get them talking. "Where did you go to school?" or "Tell me more about your job" might not sound like the most interesting topics, but finding out about the other person not only lets you establish whether you're interested in them - but it gives them a chance to talk about their favourite subject: them. It's important not to turn the conversation into a game of 21 questions, though. Use their answers to spark your own insight: "That's really interesting! I studied that too when..." is a great way to keep the conversation pedaling on and let him get to know you too.
If It's Not Happening, Don't Force It
Along with taking subtle hints - it's important to set expectations when you're making small talk. If he isn't responding well or is taking a long time between messages to reply, perhaps it's better to focus your energy and attention on someone who wants to have a chat. It doesn't mean you're not meant for each other - perhaps it's just not a good time or he prefers to talk objectively. Some people aren't as open to small talk and that's fine too. If it's not happening for you, don't force it. You could end up making the situation worse and things could turn sour - so it's always best to know when to gracefully back out.
Read The Situation
Reading between the lines is an important part of any conversation - especially during small talk. Take a step back from whatever is being said and look at the situation as a whole. If he's taking it in a certain direction, go with it and see where it leads you. If you're chatting online, it might lead to a drink in person. If you're face to face, it might just lead to a date or perhaps more. Use that intuition we talked about and assess where you're both at - before attempting to take them in the direction you want things to go.
Keep The Goodbye Short
Even if you've had an amazing conversation and felt a real connection, a long and drawn-out goodbye can leave a bad taste in your mouth. If things come to a natural conclusion, embrace it and move on to your next conversation. There are ways to keep things open, like saying you'll speak to them soon or that you hope to hear from them again. And with that, we'll keep our goodbye short too.