If there is one thing that I wish my high school had required as a general education class during my senior year, it would have been Small Talk 101. I know this seems kind of silly, and I really thought I had this area of social interaction covered when I walked across that graduation stage, but I quickly realized that I was not the expert that I thought I was when I came to college.
During their first year of college, many freshman have to use small talk to get to know people on campus. It does not matter whether you are rushing for a sorority or fraternity, forming a study group for your Political Science class, or getting to know the people who live on your dorm floor, being able to engage in small talk is important. Small talk is the easiest and most natural way to start getting to know someone, and without it, you run the risk of having a very hard time making friends and acquaintances in college.
However, you do not have anything to fear if you are not blessed with the gift of gab. EDUinReview wants your freshman year to get off on the right foot, so we are here to offer a few tips for being the Small Talk King or Queen of your class!
Know what’s going on in the world. A lot of people turn to current events for small talk conversation topics, but if you have no idea what the current events are, it can be hard to participate. Start reading the newspaper, watching the nightly news, or just skimming NewYorkTimes.com more often. If a subject does come up that you are not familiar with, ask questions such as “What do you think about this topic?” or “In your opinion, what are the long-term implications of this going to be?” This will allow you to learn about the subject while also taking the focus off of your lack of knowledge.
Stay away from sticky subjects. Religion and political beliefs can run very deep in people and sometimes they can cause disagreements between two people. Try to avoid these topics when you are first getting to know someone in order to save yourself from a potentially awkward situation.
Talk about the things you have in common. If you are joining your school’s Spanish club and are wanting to talk to new members, you can bet that you both have an interest in foreign languages. The same can be said for those who are going Greek or joining any other organization. However, by digging deeper and trying to discover other things that you might have in common with the person you are talking to (such as the fact that you both played basketball for your high school), you will guarantee yourselves the opportunity to turn this small talk into a more meaningful discussion.
If you are engaging in small talk with someone and have tried all of these ideas, but nothing is working, try talking about some of these other common small talk subjects. They are fairly safe and could end up revealing things you have in common with the other person.
No matter what happens, I would definitely NOT recommend using these topics to jump-start your small talk session. They can be great for conversation starters once you know a person better, but they can come off very uncomfortably if you have just met.
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