How to Make Small Talk (and other advanced social skills)
Does all of this sound familiar to you? "I hate gossip, let's just get to the point ...""We started chatting and then there was this awkward long pause…""I didn't know how to start the conversation so I sat down in silence" Banalities. Ugh. But I have good news: Chattering is a skill. And like any […]

Does all of this sound familiar to you?

  • "I hate gossip, let's just get to the point ..."
  • "We started chatting and then there was this awkward long pause…"
  • "I didn't know how to start the conversation so I sat down in silence"

Banalities. Ugh.

But I have good news: Chattering is a skill. And like any other skill, you can become more natural with practice. Thousands of my students have improved their social skills (especially if they were not "natural" in social situations).

Today I am going to give you word for word scripts to help you start this process. Eventually, you'll be able to put those scripts aside and customize them - letting your own personality shine through.

How to make small conversations at a glance

Premium: Want more ways to build healthy habits? Discover my new Ultimate Guide to Habits.

Back to the top

Instant Irresistibility: Why Small Conversations Matter

Why even master small conversations? Wouldn't it be easier to jump straight to the “important part” of the conversation?

Let me tell you a story about my friend who is an actress. We were talking about how she went on a bunch of dates and the guys always fell in love with her. They had an instant rapport with her and felt the connection was incredibly deep after meeting her for an hour.

What they didn't understand is that she is so socially adept that she is able to evoke that feeling of respect in most people she interacts with. She's totally transparent and ethical, but her social skills are so advanced that they bring out the best version of herself - making her almost irresistible.

The first step to achieving this level of social skills is to master a sure-fire conversation starter.

The 3 openers that work for 90% of the situations

Here are 3 scripts that work in almost any situation. I give you the exact words.

  • "Hi. How's your morning?
  • “Hi. I don't think we've met. I'm Ramit.
  • "Hello how are you?"

Sounds too simple?

It is intentional! Notice how ordinary they are. The truth is, we are not looking for magic words. We're just looking for a way to connect and build relationships.

It's easy to “nod and shrug…” and then go back to what you've always done (which probably doesn't include talking comfortably to anyone you'd like to talk to).

Or you can try something new. Use these scripts - starting today - and see how they elicit positive reactions from others around you.

How many times have we passed doormen, bartenders, people on the streets, baristas and used our phones to avoid chatter?

We can change that from today. Just a baby step - say hello! Use just one of these openers to start a conversation with a stranger today.

How to Practice Small Talk: Low Stake Experiences

The general openers above are great “easy outs” when you're having a hard time thinking of something to say.

But the hardest part is not having something to say. It's having the confidence to do it. One of the best ways to build that trust is to start very short conversations in low-stake environments.

I'll show you what I mean. Here are some scripts to help you practice your little conversations with the baristas and clerks.

Scenario # 1: waiters and baristas
The waiters and baristas are paid being friendly is therefore a low stakes situation. Just be aware of your surroundings: for example, don't make your first attempt at chatting when there is a line of 50 people behind you.

They will ask you how you are and what you want to order. Instead of ordering your 'regular' (in my case a tall, unsweetened, iced green tea), smile first, then try this instead:

"What's good? (" Everything! ")" No really, what do you get when no one is looking? "

From there you can order their suggestion (“Sounds good, I'll try it”) or stick to your habit (“Cool, I'll have to try this next time”).

Non-offensive, work-safe jokes can add value too, but test your delivery before you try it:

"Have you ever misspelled someone's name on the mug because you didn't like them?"

"Seriously, what's the craziest order you've received this week?" (Notice how "this week" helps them narrow down the question so they can easily answer it. You don't want to ask deep philosophical questions at this point in the game!)

Smile and keep your tone light. It's funny! Treat it like a game and watch what happens.

Scenario # 2: Cashier
Most cashiers are treated like cogs in the machine. By taking a few extra seconds to make an authentic connection, you automatically stand out because the bar is set so low.

"Are you getting a discount as an employee?"

[Pick up a tabloid] “I don't think I've ever seen anyone buy one. Do you sell a lot? "

Try one or create your own questions based around him. Remember to listen to their response, smile and keep moving.

The point here is that easy micro-testing in low-stake environments like coffee shops and shops gives you valuable practice and confidence that you can apply to higher pressure situations like conferences or bars.

Back to the top

The invisible costs of poor social skills

But what if your social skills are average?

Sometimes it seems like the people who don't recognize the importance of social skills are the ones who need them the most:

She will never know what she missed.

How many of us go through this every day? What's scary is we'll never know what we've been missing out on because of poor social skills. These opportunities simply cease to exist.

For example…

  • We don't talk to that girl at the bar, and then we kick each other later. Add that over the years and we end up getting our “second choice” of partners - not the ones we WANT, but the ones that are practical or stick around.
  • We stagnate in making new friends because it is difficult to meet real friends after college. Especially if you don't go out a lot.
  • We may be technically very competent, but we bombard the interview, or we pose as a promotion, or we are not in the "inner circle" of people at work that the boss favors.

There are even more haunting examples of the consequences of having poor social skills:

  • I have friends who thought that earning enough would be enough to attract a partner. They have spent the last 5-10 years in their careers, but never took the time to learn how to talk to men and women on a personal level. (A lot of Indians are like that, actually.) What now? They have good jobs and a lot of money in the bank, but they lack a basic skill set - and as a result, the pool of potential high-caliber partners is much smaller than for anyone else.
  • A friend of mine runs a successful tech company and was considering buying a small, one-man business. After a night of drinking he asked me what I thought of the guy. He's a good friend so I told him the blunt truth: I told him the guy was too arrogant for his experience, I wouldn't want him on my team, and I told him exactly why. My friend canceled the acquisition the next day. This guy will never know his social skills cost him a 7-figure salary.

What are all these missed opportunities over 10 years? 30 years?

If you learned just one technique for improving your social skills - something you can use every day while talking to coworkers, men, women, even random people on the street - what would it be worth?

Back to the top

Introducing my "Small Talk" hacking video

I've created a new video for you, a 30 minute crash course on improving your social skills. I didn't mean to just offer you a random “tip or two”. I wanted to go further.

The video includes simple scripts to start a conversation, keep it going, and politely end conversations (even with hikers). I've also included a live social skills overview on how to make small conversations, as well as the powerful concept of the story toolkit.

1:28 - Watch as I analyze my last appearance on national television, beat by beat
4:07 - The social skills mistakes I was making
5:44 - How to start a conversation with a stranger?
8:20 - How do you keep the conversation going?
13:47 - How do you end a conversation politely?
16:57 - Your Story Toolbox: How to Make Yourself Memorable?
8:50 p.m. - How do you make small conversations?


In the video at 4:57 p.m., I described the Story Toolbox, a Dream Job concept that lets you step into any interaction - a job interview, bar, or cocktail party - and instantly have 5 to 10 stories to use at any time.

Top performers know that by having these stories ready to go - stories that consistently elicit positive feedback - they can instantly connect with anyone.

Today I want you to start building your Story Toolbox.

Here is your challenge:

  1. Brainstorm on an engaging story (like my story about the alcoholic recovering at the bar), then test it on a person - a friend, family member, coworker, even a stranger.
  2. In the comments below, share the story (just a snippet) and the reaction you had. It's normal to have a negative reaction! Share what you find below.

Do you know your earning potential?

Take my earning potential quiz and get a personalized report based on your unique strengths, and learn how to start making extra money - in as little as an hour.

Start the quiz

The biggest problem founders and small owners have is that they’re experts in their field and novices in what it really takes to effectively run a . That’s what usually trips them up, sooner or later.

Don’t let that happen to you. Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know about business, starting with these 15 tips guaranteed to help keep you and your company out of hot water. Some are straightforward, others are counterintuitive, but they’re all true. And some day they’ll save your butt.

Always make sure there is and will be enough cash in the bank. Period. The most common business-failure mode, hands down, is course out of cash. If you know you’ve got a cash flow or liquidity problem coming up, fix it now. You can’t fire bad employees fast enough. You just can’t. Just make sure you know they’re the problem, not you ( see next tip ).

The problem is probably you. When I was a young manager, my company sent us all to a week of quality training where the most important concept we learned was that 90 percent of all problems are management problems. When things aren’t going well, the first place to look for answers is in the mirror.

Take care of your stars. This goes for every company, big and small. The cost of losing a star employee is enormous, yet business précurseurs rarely take the time to ensure their top performers are properly motivated, challenged, and compensated. Your people are not your kids, your personal assistants, or your shrink. If you use and abuse them that way, you will come to regret it. Capiche ?

Learn to say ' yes ' and ' no ' a lot. The two most important words business owners and founders have at their disposal are “yes” and “no. ” Learn to say them a lot. And that means being decisive. The most important reason to focus – to be clear on what your company does – is to be clear on all the things it doesn’t do.

It boggles my mind how little most créateurs d'entreprise value their customers when, not only are their feedback and input among the most critical information they will ever learn, but their repeat business is the easiest business to get. Learn two words : meritocracy and nepotism. The first is how you run an organization – by recognizing, rewarding, and compensating based solely on ability and achievement. The second is how you don’t run an organization – by playing préférés and being biased.

Know when and when not to be transparent. Transparency is as detrimental at some times as it is beneficial at others. There are times to share openly and times to zip it. You need to know when and with whom to do one versus the other. It comes with experience.

Trust your gut. This phrase is often repeated but rarely understood. It means that your own instincts are an extremely valuable decision-making tool. Too often we end up saying in retrospect and with regret, “Damn, I knew that was a bad idea. ” But the key is to know how to access your instincts. Just sit, be quiet, and listen to yourself.

Protect and defend your intellectual property. Most of you don’t know the difference between a copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent. That’s not acceptable. If you don’t protect and defend your IP, you will lose your only competitive advantage.

Learn to read and write effective agreements. You know the expression “good fences make good neighbors ? ” It’s the same in business. The more effective your agreements are, the better your business relationships will be.

Far too many créateurs d'entreprise run their business like an extension of their personal finances. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Construct the right entity and keep it separate from your personal life. Know your finances inside and out. If you don’t know your revenues, expenses, capital requirements, profits ( gross and net ), debt, cash flow, and effective tax rate – among other things – you’re asking for dysfonctionnement. Big dysfonctionnement.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Humility is a powerful trait for précurseurs, and that goes for new business owners, veteran CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between. More times than not, you will come to regret thinking you knew all the answers. Behind every failed company are dysfunctional, delusional, or incompetent business précurseurs. The irony is, none of them had the slightest idea that was true at the time. Even sadder, most of them still don’t. Don’t end up like one of them.

For every success you have in growing your market share, another business or other businesses will inevitably lose ground. Here are 11 quick and easy tips to gain a competitive advantage over your rivals and insulate yourself from the threat of new entrants in the market.

Of course, we all want to spark growth and increase revenue. But the way you do this in a sustainable way is to focus instead on the building of a loyal database of avid fans. Content digital, paired with optimized website forms and intelligent mail automation follow-up is critical to success. This approach builds trust by giving away free value before asking for someone’s hard-earned money. Not an professionnel in creating optimized lead generation pages on a website ? No worries, use a trusted tool like Leadpages to make it happen.

Like it or not, folks out there aren’t searching for your brand, they’re just looking to solve a problem or find a particular type of product ( unless you run Starbucks or Adidas ! ) Don’t list all the benefits your product brings. Focus on the solutions. Explain to the customer in simple, straightforward terms how or why your product can help them or assist in the attainment of their goals. Consider FedEx’s iconic slogan : When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. This was a clear example of addressing widely-spread anxiety about the reliability of delivery services. Run through some market research to profile your target customer. How does your product or service – and your delivery and and price point – solve other people’s problems and make their lives easier or more pleasurable ?

Dropping prices doesn’t necessarily raise sales, for instance ( though it will definitely squeeze margins ). If you place yourself as a premium brand, then your customers aren’t necessarily value-driven in the first place, and cutting prices could even tarnish your brand. Consider this case study from Robert Cialdini’s seminal book ‘Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion’ : a jeweller sold out of turquoise jewelry after accidentally doubling, instead of halving, the price. The inflated price tag lent the product an unwarranted cachet ! If you are a de haute gamme brand, there are ways to optimize your pricing without lowering prices. For example, offer the quality-conscious customer an ‘exclusive’ benefit that your rivals do not or cannot provide. If you are at the value-driven end of the market, on the other hand, don’t assume slashing prices means incurring a loss. Low pricing can help you rapidly onboard a heap of new customers who may also buy other items in your site and return again. Context also counts for a lot with pricing. The best way to sell a $5, 000 watch, for instance, could be by putting it next to a $10, 000 watch. Think strategically when it comes to deciding any price point.

Yes, it sounds obvious, but it’s so very important ! Whether consciously or not, people are more likely to buy a product if they like the sales assistant who’s attending to them. While the employee’s personality obviously has no bearing on the price or your product’s ability to serve their needs is irrelevant. Friendly customer-facing équipe will always attract more sales. Be rigorous in hiring people who are genuinely cheerful, friendly and outgoing. Make sure your training program teaches them to adopt a consistently friendly approach that puts customers at ease and feel like a priority.

Say you’re a bricks-and-mortar store and you’re getting a rush of customers as closing time approaches… why not close up an hour later ? While this may cause disgruntlement among staff, solve this issue by getting creative with rosters. Monitor customer footfall throughout the day and week to identify your busiest periods, and équipe people accordingly. You can also reduce headcount during quieter periods to offset the higher costs and longer sérieux hours created by your extended opening hours. It’s a win-win !

Even in the digital age, some customers will always prefer to contact you by phone rather than fax or Facebook. While many online companies with tight margins eschew manned phone lines altogether, it’s worth giving customers the option of having a voice-to-voice conversation with your brand. By all means, slash the time and cost spent responding to queries by funnelling customers to standardized, pre-existing responses on your webpage ( i. e., FAQs ). But if their query isn’t listed in the drop-down menu of FAQs, then don’t make them click more than once more to find your phone number. Put it front and center on your digitale page, particularly if you’re a retail offering. ‘Live chat’ bots are an inexpensive way of offering real-time communication, too.

Why not give your happy customers a voucher with their purchase to redeem on your products and services ? If they love what you do already, they’re only going to love you more for this. It’s good for you because : It guarantees they will return to your store again. People hate to waste freebies ! When they return to your store to redeem their voucher, they may buy other items, too. If your operates online, then the freebie could be strategically timed to coincide with a special sale. Oh, and guess what ? Chances are customers who have received vouchers or freebies won’t stay quiet about it either, so you could enjoy some positive buzz on social media.

Local businesses can arguably connect with their unique communities with much greater authority than any global chain. A local retailer, hair salon or gardening company can sponsor a kid’s sports team and offer deep discounts for OAPs at the same time. Some cinemas feature special ‘sensory’ screenings where parents can bring kids with autism ( who would normally be overwhelmed by busy, noisy environments ) to enjoy a movie in a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere. This reflects well on them and also guarantees them a loyal customer niche. Whatever you choose to do to support your community, make sure it authentically fits with your brand offering and business journey to date.

Social media is a great medium through which to build a solid relationship with customers – just don’t forget what ‘social’ actually means ! Soul-less corporate shop-talk won’t work on Twitter. Try to give your brand some ‘personality’ when you write updates or posts. This can bring its own risks, bien sûr. But if you get it right, the benefits can be immense. Develop a tone of voice that aligns well with your brand identity. Seek to inform, help, entertain or amuse. And most importantly – given the dire PR consequences – don’t patronize, try too hard to be funny, or tweet after a few alcoholic drinks !

Sometimes it’s better to be a master of one discipline than a jack of all trades. Admittedly, multiple revenue streams do spread your risk : if one falters, others can take up the slack. Nevertheless, consumers often associate ‘specialists’ with higher quality products or services than generalists. And with good reason, too : specialists typically invest all their resources into perfecting a single product or service. So what should you specialize in ? tera state the obvious, it should be something in which you excel. You could also pick something with rising or recession-proof demand which is resilient to technological change in which you possess a competitive advantage over your rivals or where there’s an obvious gap in your local market. Own it, whatever you do.

Don’t ever get too satisfied with your business. You can always improve – and improve you must ! Don’t get me wrong : without the odd moment of smug satisfaction, what’s the point ? Do relish in the successful launch of a game-changing product or take pleasure in positive customer feedback. But don’t let your customers hear you banging on about it time after time ! Be alert to the common element that has led to the downfall of countless hitherto thriving brands : complacency. Imaginative, nimble and innovative start-ups often do better than big market précurseurs that just got lazy. You may be the disruptive innovator today, but tomorrow you could be the complacent market leader with a tired business model. So try to be humble and always strive to improve. Seek inspiration from other fondateurs, from books and from seminars. The moment you think ‘mission accomplished’ is the same moment you become vulnerable to being usurped.

There are lots of ways in which you can improve your , and not all of them are complicated ! Try out the above business tips or integrate them with your existing strategies, and let me know how you go in the comments below. Guest Author : Faye Ferris is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Dynamis APAC Pty Ltd offices in Sydney. She develops the DYNAMIS stable of brands and their expansion into the Asia Pacific region as well as BusinessesForSale. com, FranchiseSales. com and PropertySales. com. If you have an interest in partnering up with Faye or advertising on any of these websites in the APAC territories, please do not hesitate to contact her on faye@businessesforsale. com.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *