How To Make Small Talk In English
Small talk is a polite way to get to know someone in a social setting. Making small talk is not just about the ability to say “hello”, then nod and smile, but it involves one’s ability to speak
knowledgeably on a wide array of social topics. Therefore, staying up-to-date on current events, reading the newspaper/magazines and watcghing the news are great waysv to improve one’s ability to make small talk. This is also a great way to build one’s vocabulary.
When making small talk it’s important to stay away from taboo subjects like politics, religion, sexuality, money and the like. Making small talk can be easy when there is a common interest. Some great topics of conversation includes the weather (it affects everyone), your work day, a popular book/movie/show, travel, shopping and trivial things.
It’s not only important to know how to make small talk, but it’s also important to know
when to end it. Like making small talk, ending and changing the topic of conversation is just as important and may also require a bit of practice. At the end of the day, making small talk comes easy if one stays up-to-date on current events, listens well, and knows how or when to end or change the topic of conversation.
Lisa is supposed to meet her date, Jay at the Toronto Art Museum at 7:00 pm. However, she decided to leave early to avoid getting caught in the evening traffic. She arrived at the museum 6:15pm and decided to go to the museum store to waste time until her date arrives…
Sales associate: Do you need help finding anything?
Lisa: No, I am just browsing.
Sales associate: Okay. If you need help finding anything, please feel free to ask.
Lisa: Thank you. I am meeting my date here, but I came a little early to beat the evening traffic. I really dislike getting caught in traffic.
Sales associate: I understand! It is so frustrating sitting in (congested) traffic waiting
for cars to move. It’s waste such a of time!
Lisa: I agree! (both laughs). It’s also a waste of gas and money! Yes, it’s quite inconvenient and expensive to drive your car in a big city like Toronto. If it’s that bad in Toronto I can’t imagine an even bigger city like Tokyo, London, or even Hong Kong! It must be ten times more overwhelming!
Sales associate: I’ve lived in London, England and I have to say that the train system is great; however, you are right, driving in the city can be really stressful. Toronto is a walk in the park comparison to London, England.
Lisa: Oh, look at the time. My date should be here already. It was really nice talking to you. My name is Lisa.
Sales associate: My name is Julie. Nice to meet you. (Handshake). It was great speaking with you too. See you around. Take care.
Lisa: You too. Bye.
Sales associate: Bye.
Topics of Small Talk:
Self-Introduction: Name, hobbies, likes and dislikes, hometown or country of birth etc., and vise versa.
Sports – Popular sports, favorite teams, seasonal sports…
Family – children, spouse, parents…
Media – popular books/magazines, channels, music, the internet, actors, movies…
Weather – current weather forecast, favorite season(s), favorite seasonal activities or interests…
Work – career, jobs/work experience, career interest, your passion, employment…
Shopping – grocery shopping, clothes shopping, current trends in fashion, expenses…
Celebrities (a popular topic of conversation) – Hollywood, celebrities in
the news; your favorite celebrity, actor/actress; singers and other artists…
Education – your major, schools attended …
Current Events – (be careful here not to talk about politics or conflicts between
countries unless you know the person well); natural disasters, crime/crime rate, the Royal family …
Create your own dialog using the above list of popular topics of small talk as a
guide when making small talk. Below is an outline of how to do that.
You: How was your day at work?
Your friend/family member: It was great/boring/…___________ (adjective).
You: I am sorry to hear that./I am glad to hear that you had a good work day.
Your friend: Thank you. How was yours?
You: __________________ (Respond).
Your friend: ___________ (Respond).
Up-to-Date – When someone is informed of the latest information or news event.
Current events – events or issues of interest to you found in the daily news
Frustration – When something has a strong emotional effect on someone.
Congestion – A build-up or increase of something (like cars on the road during rush hour).
Irrelevant – Something that is of little importance.
Politics – This refers to when groups of people in government make collective decisions. It also refers to the attitude and behavior of the government and people in different work environments.
Wide array – A variety of choices, collection, or opinion. It is also a large collection of something.