Us introverts are always combatting the notion that we’re shy people. We’re (usually) not, we just prefer more deep and meaningful conversation. The problem is, how do you get to that type of conversation with someone you just met or hardly even know? Small talk.
I hate small talk; most introverts do. But guess what? It’s a necessary skill to reaching a deeper conversation. Just like public speaking and changing a dirty diaper, small talk is a skill just waiting for you to master. It can be learned!
One of the hardest things for me to do is enter a room and be expected to mingle with people I don’t know. Oddly, many extroverts also feel some anxiety towards small talk, but they handle it differently than us.
A sure fire ways to engage in small talk is to think about context. Are you at a house warming party? Why not ask people how they know the host? Comment about how beautiful their home is (if it’s not, skip this one). Say how delicious the food is. All superficial topics you don’t really care to know the answer to, but it gets the ball rolling.
Depending on what their response is, use it to build into a real conversation. You might talk about current events, their opinion on such events, etc., allowing a dialogue to build. From there, you can transition into more personal questions such as what they do for a living, family, and hobbies — all of this allowing you to ask more questions.
It seems very simple, right? But it’s difficult to be mindful of these things when it’s actually happening. Maybe take a step back, take some deep breaths, and think about previous successes to use as your anchors. You can do it; this is just another skill-sharpening sessions!
Oh yeah, and if the conversation gets stale, move on. Excuse yourself to get another drink, say there’s someone else you need to say hi to, or even go to the bathroom. Easy.