Mastering Small Talk – Part II

Posted in Chapter 2 - How to Meet New People, Conversation Openers, Small Talk, The Secrets

Mastering Small Talk – Part II

 

 

A master of small talk is one who uses small talk the LEAST.

 

 

 

As noted in Part I, some people focus only on themselves and never put the other person at ease during small talk.  They try too hard to impress instead of building rapport.

In Part II, we cover the second major mistake people make during small talk...
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Small Talk Mistake #2

Failure to transition OUT of small talk and into something more meaningful.

 

Many people become too scared to leave the safety of the boring topics that plague small talk -- i.e. family, occupation, recreation, or the weather.

While EVERYBODY can talk about these subjects, these topics do little to generate attraction for this exact reason.

Let's look at an example of stereotypical small talk involving this route.

 

GUY    “What do you do for a living?"

GIRL   “I'm a pharmaceutical rep. You?

GUY     “I'm an accountant”  

[The girl is physically attracted to the guy, but accounting is pretty boring...the girl nods her head and goes to another safe topic.]

 

GIRL    “That's cool.  So where did you go to school?"

GUY      “I went to Rice. You?"

GIRL     "I went to UT. "

GUY      "When did you graduate?"

GIRL     "Last year...How about you?"

[The guy is getting positive vibes because the girl is asking questions back...however, he sticks to a safe topic with his  next reply.]

 

GUY       "Me too...did you grow up in Austin?"

GIRL      "No but I have some cousins that lived there."

GUY       "Did you go see the famous bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge?"

GIRL      "Yeah...I loved going watch them."

[Guy and girl both get initially excited because they finally found something in common.  However, they spend the next 15 minutes talking only about the bats because they are afraid to leave a topic they have in common...Inevitably, things grow stale and culminate in an awkward pause.  The girl breaks the silence by going back to another safe topic.]

 

GIRL       "It feels like 100 degrees today."

GUY         "I know...I'm sweating so bad right now."

GIRL       "I'm going to go grab a drink to cool off...it was nice meeting you."

[They exchange a pleasant handshake and never speak again.]

 

You probably can relate to this example because it happens all the time.  Two people want to be relating to each other, but it doesn't happen.

Even though they were physically attracted to each other, both were afraid to take initiative and show it.  They stayed in the comfort zone of small talk too long and things eventually fizzled.

Each hoped to see "indicators of interest" from the other, but neither realized that they needed to CREATE the interest first.

In most cases, this entails flirting. However, even if you AREN'T attracted to the other person, you should still learn how to connect with someone beyond the level of small talk.

 

The power to connect on a deeper level with people will serve you in more than just your love life.

 

Fortunately, you have multiple options for getting past small talk...

 

1.  Keep them talking about themselves.

 

Researchers have found that people feel a "connection" when they think you know a lot about THEM...not when they know a lot about YOU.

Ironically...

The more you get someone to talk about themselves, the more connected they will feel to you.

The good news is that this strategy is easy.

People LOVE talking about themselves.  You just need to give them the opportunity to do so.  (As we already discussed in Part I, the hardest part is resisting the temptation to boast or focus on yourself.)

The next challenge is getting them to open up, which is easy if you LISTEN to what they are saying during small talk.  Show a genuine interest in what they are saying and follow-up on it.

A great way to break out of bland back-and-forth small talk is to ask the question "WHY?"

For instance...asking WHY someone decided to be an accountant requires more than a routine reply.  It gives them the impression that you are genuinely interested and want to know more than just superficial answers.

Get someone to talk about their passions and things they don't share with every other person they meet.  If you do, then you have successfully transitioned out of small talk and established a REAL connection.

WARNING:  This strategy requires good intuition.  It can easily be perceived as creepy if you probe too much, too fast.  It also requires good timing.  Pay attention to where you are and what is appropriate for the current setting.  Things could backfire and the person may feel LESS comfortable if you are asking questions that are too personal at inappropriate times.

This is also a great time to remind you about the lessons from Chapter 1.  Are you using great posture, eye contact, body language, and speaking with confidence?

If you are having trouble in these areas, try emulating someone who excels in an area where you are weak.

For example, sometimes it's difficult to think of what to say or properly evaluate your body language.  However, if you imagine you are someone else who excels in these areas, many of these things correct themselves.

 

Mimicking another person with the strengths you want is often an effective technique for overcoming your weaknesses.

 

For this particular strategy, famous people like Anderson Cooper or Dr. Drew are good role models.  They are very successful at getting people to talk about themselves.  Many women are extremely attracted to these guys because they exhibit a calm, confident, and genuine demeanor when talking to other people.

When you don't know what to say...just think of what these guys would say and how they would carry themselves.  Before you know it, the other person will start feeling a strong connection without you barely speaking!

 

2. Say something unexpected, funny, or intriguing.

 

This is one of our favorite techniques for transitioning out of small talk.  It works in almost any scenario and can accelerate attraction faster than #1.

Nothing breaks the small talk rut better than humor.  Laughter totally changes the mood and puts everyone at ease.

We typically don't advise using scripted material.  But if you want to prepare anything, come up with clever responses to the traditional small talk topics.  

Since these questions are inevitable, you might as well use this knowledge to your advantage and compose answers that serve as a great transition.

For example, if you have a boring occupation, come up with a witty answer to the question...

"What do you do for a living?"

 

If you are a women...instead of saying you are a pharmaceutical rep, you could say...

"I'm a dance teacher"

 

The guy will inevitably ask...

"What type of dance do you teach?"

 

Then, you could say something funny like...

"Lap Dancing!"

 

Imagine the guys reaction to that response versus "pharmaceutical rep".  You would immediately put a grin on his face, and his whole demeanor will perk up.

He was expecting a prototypical boring response, but got something totally unexpected. You can bank on the following thoughts swimming in his head... "Wow..This girl is cool, funny and intriguing".

He will also feel instant attraction - not just because of the sexual connotation of lap dancing, but because you said something that was entertaining and unexpected.

Even though you lied about your real occupation, do you really think he cares??? There is no way he is going to walk away from you after that response. He will want to hear more!

The best part is that you are in control now.  YOU were the one who broke up the small talk routine by saying something witty and funny.  Now, he will feel relaxed to do the same.  The stage has been set perfectly for flirting.

 

Let's look at an example from the MALE perspective...

In Part I, we gave an example of my friend who didn't succeed at responding to a girl at the bar.  If you recall, we suggested an alternative response that included the following words at the end...

"...we're SEMI-NICE guys."

Again, the use of SEMI-NICE is unexpected.

Girls are used to getting complements and/or guys bragging about themselves to get their attention.  Being playful with them or self-deprecating breaks the response they are used to hearing.

Saying you're semi-nice is also intriguing because they probably haven't heard it before. This will immediately make you memorable and almost guarantee a follow-up question on this comment.

If she does probe further, you can respond with more intrigue by saying something like...

"Well...I'm sometimes a bad boy, but I have a good heart."

Saying you're a "bad boy" may sound like the last thing you want to say to a girl, but subconsciously it works.

Trust us...If she is attracted to you, she will rationalize the controversial part of what you said and focus on the positive part about having a "good heart".

Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, almost everyone can relate to sometimes being bad.  Subliminally...they can't help but evaluate themselves too.  In most cases, you will get THEM thinking about being bad too.  Brilliant, right?

Regardless...Once you have someone relating to you and still talking after you say something unexpected, funny or intriguing...Bingo!...You just transitioned out of small talk and positioned yourself perfectly for flirting.

If you are looking at people to emulate in this area, think of celebrities such as Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld or Ben Stiller.  These guys are extremely witty, funny and display a natural charm and confidence that allows them to say almost anything.

Whether it's being crude, witty, or self-deprecating...The confidence to say anything and make it seem funny/charming is what generates the strong attraction.

On the female side, study comedians such a Whitney Cummings or Amy Schumer. Almost any guy who has seen these women perform find them extremely attractive despite their average Jane looks.  They say what most women think, but aren't afraid to admit...this makes them a magnet for both guys and girls to watch.

 

3.  Start flirting.

 

Let's face it...if you are talking to someone you are attracted to, what's the point in hiding it?

Odds are good the other person knows it too...so why not break rapport and start creating sexual tension?

 

Let your intentions be known and don't be afraid to be VERY bold.

 

Take command of small talk that is lingering too long and getting boring...After being asked another stereotypical question, you can say something like...

 

"I just came over to talk to you because I thought you were cute...I didn't know this was going to be a job interview [smile]"

 

The other person may be taken aback by your boldness, but don't back down from the grief they may give you in response.  Any reply that isn't more small talk is GOOD!

If they are attracted to you, they will just be giving you grief to test you.  This is actually a form of flirting, so interpret these responses appropriately and don't cower back into small talk.

Once you've broken up the small talk and expressed your intentions, the road is now clear for flirting.  Bingo!...You have successfully mastered small talk.

Even more than #2, this strategy requires that carry yourself properly and master all the traits of a confident/secure person.  If not, this strategy will not resonate with the other person.

A great role model to study and emulate is James Bond.

Think of how he carries himself around women.  He builds immediate rapport with very little words.  His seductive body language, eye contact, posture, and even pace of his voice speak volumes for him.  Notice how quickly he transitions out of small talk with the opposite sex and into flirting.

If you are a female, someone like Madonna or Samantha from Sex in the City are great examples to temporarily emulate in order to get out of small talk.  You shouldn't permanently take on their persona, but it's ok to caricature yourself at times.

In other articles, we will spend lots of time addressing flirting and providing various examples.

However, for both men and women, strategic complements are a great way for beginners to start flirting.

The key word is STRATEGIC.  Any compliment that is obvious or stereotypical carries less weight than one that is unique.  Don't go overboard and immediately paint you as sold or infatuated.  Think of playful, light complements that just HINT at your attraction.

For example, don't tell a buxom, blonde model she's beautiful.  She's heard that a thousand times before and all you will get is a "thank you" in reply.

Instead, compliment her on one of the accessories she's wearing.  Or you could be funny and complement her on her ears.  (Here you are combining the "unexpected" from #2 with flirting from #3 which can be very effective.)

We focus specifically on flattery in a separate article, but you're probably already thinking of clever ways to interject flirting into small talk.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Mastering small talk is easier than you think with the right training and practice.  If you follow the strategies we outlined in Part I and II, before long you will be...

a)  Building rapport fast - either through body language or words

b)  Transitioning OUT of small talk and into a more meaningful connections

c)   Laying the groundwork for flirting

However, we can't stress one point enough.

The better you are with the concepts we taught in Chapter 1...the more successful you will be with these small talk strategies.

No strategy for small talk will trump poor body language, posture, eye contact, hygiene, wardrobe, and/or a meek demeanor .

Use the role models we suggested to shortcut some of your weaknesses in these areas.  Even if you still fail, keep practicing and learn from your mistakes.  Make sure to honestly evaluate what you did wrong and make the necessary improvements.

Before long you will have mastered a skill that will serve you in both inside your love life and out.

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