As much as this may sound like a Proctor and Gamble advertisement from 30 years ago, it isn’t. This is, I would say, an appendix to my previous blog (SWT Mindset). Reasoning? Well, as effective as SmileWaveTalk is at increasing your daily happiness and bettering your interaction skills with other people, it does not really outline how to keep them there, once the initial hello has been played.
This appendix is a guideline for small talk. Small talk, as insignificant as it may seem, is actually one of the most important basic skills for a social human being. It is the wheels on the car of social interaction. It is what moves people closer together, or further away. In order to actually get to know anyone, you must first start with small talk.
Listen, relate, repeat. Although seemingly self explanatory through name, but definitely worth explaining in depth. Say it a few times in your head, “Listen, relate, repeat. Listen, relate, repeat…” Good, now that it is stuck there, I want you to imagine you are in an uncomfortable social situation, perhaps at a party.
You are standing there all alone after you spent much longer than you needed to filling your drink, and munching on check mex. You turn around from the table where the drinks and finger food are stationed, and realize that there is no one to talk to. Unsure of what to do with yourself, you put your hands in your pockets, and look around the room. That increasingly loud, annoying little person in your head starts yelling, “Are you really just gonna stand here all by yourself? You look like a LOSER. Go do something!” To which, you respond, “But what the hell am I supposed to talk about?!” To which I would respond, “Listen, relate, repeat.”
So as you start to strike up some of those awkward conversations around the room, keep those three words in mind. All it takes is a simple step toward the person, and the most broad question you can think of, “So what do you do?” Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Other times, when people don’t talk quite as much, you may need to have a few more broad questions in your back pocket.
While the other person is talking, focus on ACTUALLY listening to what the person is saying. I stress this because, if not followed, this could ruin the conversation. People can subconsciously pick up on the fact that you’re not listening, and be turned off immediately. Actually listening to what they have to say not only shows them that you’re genuine, and it also makes them feel important (your number one goal in any social situation).
Now, they are finishing up the point they are making, and it’s about to be your turn to speak. Since you have been listening the whole time, this next part should be easy. Relate. Find ways in which you relate to the things they were talking about. Maybe you are from the same area, work in the same field, and share the same point of view. No matter the reason, relating to the person is what forms the foundation for a stronger relationship with them. You are showing them that you have things in common.
Usually, the person will then respond to you by relating also. This shows that they have come to realize that they have come upon someone who they can be friends with (This is an example of how the Three Pillars for a strong friendship are applied, as discussed in my previous blog “Making Friends that Stick”). If you feel that the topic that you have just related to is coming to a close, then it is time to go to the next step. Repeat. Repeat back to the person what they have told you, but in your own words. This only shows how well you have been listening, but also makes the person feel more important. Moreover, repeating back to them also gives them the chance to further elaborate on the point, and give you even deeper reasons and emotions to relate to.
If you have successfully followed these steps, and made the person you are speaking to feel important, then they will be inclined to do the same for you. They will then begin to ask questions about you and you can show them who you are. This is similar to giving out free samples at Costco. Once the person gets the flavor of the final product in their mouth, it makes the purchase decision that much easier. Here, you have showed the person that you can relate to them, and hold a conversation, and it will make their decision to stick around and learn about you, that much easier.
THE TAKE AWAY: Follow these basic guidelines for small talk: Listen, Relate, Repeat. Listen, Relate, Repeat. Listen, Relate, Repeat. They will help you to make people feel important, show them how valuable you are, and in the end, transform that awkward stance near the punch bowl into the posture of a social butterfly. Good luck and happy hunting!
- Small talk (respiratorytherapycave.blogspot.com)
- Listening skill (srimahyuni86.wordpress.com)
- Blocks to Listening (jackysunchaser.wordpress.com)
- What are tips for individuals with ADHD to help listening ability (wiki.answers.com)
- My Thoughts On Handling People Who Are Bad Listeners (abhishekclf.wordpress.com)
- Listening (principalcommunicates.wordpress.com)
- Developing Confidence – how to talk to anyone, anywhere, any time (leavingthepublicsector.net)