When attending a party with mixed friend groups, you’re inevitably going to meet new people. For shy people or those with social anxiety, small talk can seem like a mountain that is way too intimidating to climb.
However, small talk doesn’t have to be stiff conversations about the weather and what you’re eating. These introductory conversations can be truly rewarding and lead to new friendships. Want to learn how to make dinner party small talk like a pro? Use these five tips and you’ll be the hit of the party in no time.
Have Topics in Mind
Nobody wants to be stuck talking about the weather or your surroundings all night, so think of a few conversation topics before you embark on your evening. This is particularly important if you’re an anxious person who is intimidated by meeting new people. While you don’t want to seem like a rolodex of topics, try to study up a little on current events and pop culture so you can engage with your fellow party guests.
Pretend Like Everyone Is Already Your Friend
The old phrase “fake it till you make it” applies here. If you enter into each new conversation with confidence, a smile, and enthusiasm, people will react in kind. Automatically assume that everybody in the room is kind and that they think you’re a nice, interesting person, too. You’ll feel better about yourself, and other people will be able to sense that.
Ask Questions (and Follow-Up Questions)
People love to talk about themselves, so don’t be afraid to load the bulk of the conversation on them. Even a simple question such as “What do you do for a living?” can turn into something more meaningful if you ask more about their job or how they got interested in that career. Be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say and the rest of your exchange should flow seamlessly.
The easiest way to be a good conversationalist is to be a great listener. While it may seem obvious, try not to space out while your conversation partner is talking, even if they may be a little dull. Listen to what the other person is saying and try and make a connection to your own life. Chances are you have some sort of shared interest or experience that you can build upon.
If the Conversation Lulls, Don’t Be Afraid to Excuse Yourself
Listen, you’re not going to hit it off with every single person that you meet. And that’s OK! Don’t sweat it. If the conversation really has come to a dead end, just make a small excuse and say goodbye to the person you were talking to. Something as simple as, “I’m going to go try one of those mushroom caps,” or, “It was so nice to meet you! I’m going to go catch up with Katie!” are perfectly acceptable exit phrases that won’t offend.
And if you're really, truly stuck on what to say to someone; try a compliment. Start here, with these 15 nice things you should say more often.