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Nick Douglas Nick Douglas Oct 18, 2019. 9 comments

How to Keep a Conversation Flowing

How to Keep a Conversation Flowing

The pauses were excruciating. My parents and I stared across the room at my chemistry teacher and his wife. We smiled northern white Protestant smiles. We had nothing to say. I vowed that when I grew up, I would never settle for an awkward conversation.

I was entirely wrong. Only the rude and the aggressive can blow through life without tripping into the occasional halting, awkward chat. I’ve...

9 Comments

Alice Bradley Alice Bradley Sep 11, 2019. 3 comments

How to Get Better at Small Talk

How to Get Better at Small Talk

On this smaller episode we’re diving into the topic of small talk. Is it there real value in shooting the breeze, or is it just inane jibber-jabber? Wherever you stand on the topic, you’re going to be called on to engage in small talk sooner or later—so how do you get more comfortable with it? Our producer asked the people who are probably the most fluent in small talk: bartenders. Then,...

3 Comments

Nick Douglas Nick Douglas Mar 09, 2019. 12 comments

How to Be Better at Small Talk

How to Be Better at Small Talk

I’m trying to stop saying “I know.” I say it too much to my friends or my wife when they’re just trying to be helpful. But unless someone’s actually being a dick or assuming I’m an idiot, I don’t need to protect my ego that hard. I win more points if I say “Thanks!” or “That’s true!” and keep the conversation going. Artist Austin Kleon lists a few more conversational shortcuts that you might...

12 Comments

Josh Ocampo Josh Ocampo Feb 01, 2019. 13 comments

Don't Ask Your Starbucks Barista About Howard Schultz

Don't Ask Your Starbucks Barista About Howard Schultz

Last week, we learned how to order from a Starbucks barista so they wouldn’t judge us. This week, well, things got a little more complicated.

If you’re overwhelmed by the current news cycle (as you likely are), here’s what you need to know: during an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks, announced that he’s “seriously thinking of running for president”...

13 Comments

Kristin Wong Kristin Wong Sep 25, 2018.

Make Better Conversation With the 50/50 Rule for Listening and Talking

Make Better Conversation With the 50/50 Rule for Listening and Talking

Maybe you talk too much in conversation; maybe you clam up. Either way, communication skills don’t come naturally for everyone. For a better conversational flow, use the 50/50 ratio for talking and listening.

Sometimes it’s hard to build a comfortable pace in a conversation. If you don’t contribute, things can get awkward. And if you share too much, the other person may be wondering when...

Aimée Lutkin Aimée Lutkin Aug 10, 2018. 23 comments

Why You Should Get Good at Small Talk

Why You Should Get Good at Small Talk

Small talk gets a lot of backlash; most people seem to think they’re too important to discuss the weather. It’s true that some small talk can feel shallow or boring, but it serves an important purpose. That’s why everyone should learn how to do it well.

In a recent opinion piece for the New York Times, Irish writer Maeve Higgins states that Americans, and New Yorkers in particular, are...

23 Comments

Kristin Wong Kristin Wong May 21, 2018. 3 comments

Improve Your Conversation Skills With the Right Balance of Questions and Statements

Improve Your Conversation Skills With the Right Balance of Questions and Statements

Asking questions is a great way to start an engaging conversation . Ask too many questions, however, and your conversation starts to feel more like an interrogation. To avoid this, author Ramit Sethi suggests the “question, question, statement” method.

Be More Likable In Conversation by Making the Other Person an Expert

Asking questions is a great way to become more likable in social...

3 Comments

Whitson Gordon Whitson Gordon May 03, 2018. 3 comments

Top 10 Tips to Work a Room Like a Champ

Top 10 Tips to Work a Room Like a Champ
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Whether you’re headed to your office’s boring holiday party or attending your weird neighbor’s potluck, parties—which should be fun—come with all sorts of awkward moments and stressors attached. Here are 10 ways to work that room like a champ.

10. Enter with Confidence

Everything starts that first moment you...

3 Comments

Kristin Wong Kristin Wong Apr 15, 2018. 3 comments

Focus on Hard Work To Address Accomplishments Without Being Boastful

Focus on Hard Work To Address Accomplishments Without Being Boastful

Most of us have a tendency to diminish our accomplishments. Someone congratulates us, and we tell them, "ah, it's no big deal." We don't want to seem boastful. But it's okay to address your wins, and you can do it modestly by focusing on your hard work.

Next time someone compliments you, there's a better way to respond than simply brushing it off. The Muse suggests:

Talk About How You Intend to...

3 Comments

Dave Greenbaum Dave Greenbaum Apr 15, 2018. 3 comments

When Trying to Make Small Talk, Ask About Business Challenges

When Trying to Make Small Talk, Ask About Business Challenges

When you first meet someone at a networking event, small talk starts the ball rolling. Ask about the other person's challenges in their line of work to open up the conversation.

The Muse has a few questions you can ask to keep the conversation going. The key is to have your conversational partner talk about themselves so you'll learn more about them and their business:

There isn't a...

3 Comments

Heather Yamada-Hosley Heather Yamada-Hosley Apr 08, 2018. 1 comments

Make Meaningful Introductions by Focusing on Common Interests

Make Meaningful Introductions by Focusing on Common Interests

Often we introduce friends to one another based on what they do or how we know them. That works, but you can give them a chance to cut out small talk and launch right into a meaningful conversation by introducing them with what they have in common with each other.

By focusing on your friends’ shared interests, you’ll give them something to start talking about right away. For example, if both...

1 Comments

Alice Bradley Alice Bradley Mar 20, 2018. 4 comments

How to Talk to Anyone, With Podcaster Ken Plume 

How to Talk to Anyone, With Podcaster Ken Plume 

In this episode we’re talking about the lost art of conversation-making. Joining us is podcaster and raconteur Ken Plume, who has conducted extensive interviews with the likes of Mel Brooks and John Cleese. We discuss how Ken got his start feeling comfortable talking to just about anyone, how he handles the awkwardness of a cocktail party (hint: it involves a fern)—and then we invent an...

4 Comments

Nick Douglas Nick Douglas Sep 10, 2017. 23 comments

Stop Being Boring When People Ask "So What Do You Do?"

Stop Being Boring When People Ask "So What Do You Do?"

Small talk will never not be awkward, because to get to know someone you have to ask some fraught questions. Some questions should stay off-limits , but it’s almost always fair game to ask “So what do you do for a living?” Still, answering it can be a pain in the ass.

Maybe the last thing you want to talk about is your shitty job. Maybe your job is complicated and you can’t easily explain it....

23 Comments

Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft Sep 05, 2017. 3 comments

Be More Interested In Conversations by Playing Detective

Be More Interested In Conversations by Playing Detective

When you’re making conversation with someone, the more interested you can be in what they’re saying, the better. Sometimes it can be hard to muster interest. If you need a little motivation, turn it into a detective game.

As author Mark Goulston points out, many of us treat conversations like a back-and-forth where we each get a turn to say something the other person doesn’t care about. This...

3 Comments

Dave Greenbaum Dave Greenbaum Sep 04, 2017. 17 comments

Seinfeld’s Trick for Small Talk: Ask Questions With Numerical Answers

Seinfeld’s Trick for Small Talk: Ask Questions With Numerical Answers

No one likes small talk, but comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a useful trick for making it better: When you're stuck, ask a question someone has to answer with a number.

In his hilarious web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, he's schmoozing with Amy Schumer and he mentions a tip for chatting with people:

Here's my trick for talking to people — numbers! "Ask them questions to which...

17 Comments

Patrick Allan Patrick Allan Aug 31, 2017. 15 comments

Three Helpful Techniques to Ease You Into Talking With Strangers

Three Helpful Techniques to Ease You Into Talking With Strangers

Talking to strangers is a great way to expand your horizons , learn something new, and make new friends. If you’re not a social butterfly, though, the process can be intimidating. Here are some tips to get you started.

In this video from The Atlantic’s YouTube channel, senior editor James Hamblin, MD, speaks with Kio Stark, the author of When Strangers Meet , to get some tips for...

15 Comments

Kristin Wong Kristin Wong Aug 21, 2017. 10 comments

For Less Boring Conversations, Embrace Your Vulnerabilities

For Less Boring Conversations, Embrace Your Vulnerabilities

If you’ve ever felt like a completely dull person , take solace in this idea the School of Life presents: you’re not boring, you’re probably just guarded. In this video, they explain how to come across as less boring in conversations.

We aren’t exactly conditioned to be exciting; we’re taught to be normal, appropriate, and socially acceptable. Sometimes our deepest thoughts,...

10 Comments

Heather Yamada-Hosley Heather Yamada-Hosley Aug 21, 2017. 10 comments

Stick to  General Questions When Meeting Someone New 

Stick to  General Questions When Meeting Someone New 

One of the best ways to elevate small talk into interesting conversations is to ask questions. Stick with more general questions to learn more about someone without being invasive.

Even if you make seemingly innocent assumptions, they can lead to embarrassment for both yourself and your new acquaintance. For example, when meeting a younger woman and an older woman, you might think they’re...

10 Comments

Kristin Wong Kristin Wong Aug 19, 2017. 8 comments

This Weather Cheat Sheet Makes Sure You Always Have Factoids In Your Back Pocket

This Weather Cheat Sheet Makes Sure You Always Have Factoids In Your Back Pocket

Small talk may be necessary , but it’s also pretty boring, and small talk about the weather? Yawn. Next time you chat about the weather with someone, this cheat sheet will help you make it a little more interesting by arming you with interesting facts to discuss.

Small Talk isn't About Substance, It's About Making Connections

Most people don’t really enjoy small talk, because it’s tedious,...

8 Comments

Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft Aug 19, 2017. 13 comments

This Video Teaches You the Basics of Making Small Talk

This Video Teaches You the Basics of Making Small Talk

Small talk is an abhorrent chore to most people. Yet, chances are, most of the non-family relationships you’ve built started with small talk. It’s a key way we get to know others. This video will show you the basics if you’re uncomfortable with it.

As this video from the Art of Manliness explains, many people get uncomfortable with small talk because it’s not very substantive...

13 Comments

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