I’ve never been good at talking to other people, and I find it very awkward sometimes – especially after I say something weird. Over the past few years, I’ve talked to many people and learned how to survive making small talk and how to have more meaningful conversations. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
Share some things about yourself and elaborate on those things. Ask the other person questions, and pay attention to what they have to say. By doing so, you might encourage the other person to open up and share some things as well. One of the purposes of having a conversation is to learn about other people. By learning about other people, I am often reminded that the person I’m talking to is just a human being. They have their own unique experiences, opinions about things going on, and they’re just trying to get through life like me.
The other person might be feeling awkward too. Many people I’ve talked to have admitted that they’re not good at making conversation with others and prefer to spend time alone, which usually makes me relieved. It’s a reminder that yes, there are introverts and people that feel shy and awkward out there.
If it doesn’t go well, it’s not the end of the world. Life goes on. This is something I’ve learned over the past few years, and it’s actually made me less stressed during a conversation. If I feel as though something hasn’t gone well, I usually end up dwelling on it for a very long time. And honestly, if you get the feeling that someone doesn’t really like you after a conversation, it’s fine – not everyone will like you, and you won’t like everyone either.
Be yourself. I’ve heard so many people say this before and thought it was overrated and cheesy, until I realized how true it was. Often, I felt like I had to pretend to be extroverted and a people-person, so in conversations, I would try to portray myself as an outgoing person. This eventually became a bit exhausting for me, because deep down, I knew that talking to others for long periods of time was actually physically tiring me. Eventually, in more recent conversations, I started talking about the emotions I actually felt and the things I actually enjoyed – and those were things I could actually go on about, since it was honest and 100% true. By being myself, I was able to make friends that I could relate to very easily, and who shared the same mindset as me. The lesson I learned was that if you pretend to be someone you’re not, you will eventually find it exhausting to keep up this facade.
Over the years, these tips have made small talk a bit more enjoyable for me. I’ve come to learn that socializing isn’t something I can avoid all the time (unfortunately), but it can be beneficial in getting to know people and strengthening relationships.