As Featured on News Cult: How to Make Small Talk

Whether you’re meeting someone for the first time or stuck in an elevator with an acquaintance, you have to make chit chat sometimes. And, as its name suggests, it’s awful and cringe-worthy and the worst—it’s always against your will, so it doesn’t come easy.

Take it from someone who has no clue—here’s how to succeed at small talk.

Say the first thing that comes to mind

If someone with Tourette’s is allowed to do it, you should be too. Whether it’s, “Snakes!” or, “My mother doesn’t love me!” or, “I USED TO PEE IN THE SHOWER ON A REGULAR BASIS,” just blurt it out. #theconversationhastostartsomewhere

Play 20 Questions

Right out the gate—don’t preface it, just dive right in. E.g.

  1. “Are you a man or a woman?”
  2. “Are you dead or alive?”
  3. “Are you gay? [Rhetorical.]”

Nod and smile

At everything the other person says. This will convey, regardless of the facts, that you’re engaged/are listening/give a shit. I don’t care if they say, “… I just got back from a funeral,” or, “Oh, that’s my phone—it’s my girlfriend—I’m pretty sure she’s going to break up with me, so I just refuse to answer her calls,” or, “After this I’m going to jump off the roof”nodandsmileandnodandsmileandre-fucking-peat.

Ask lots of questions

We’ve gone over and over how much people love to talk about themselves. So the only thing you really have to do to survive the conversation is sustain it with questions—about them them them. Again, we are honing the fine art of pretending to care. And people buy it. So sell that inquisitiveness like it’s a subprime mortgage and you’re Wells Fargo.

•”So, what’s your story? Start from the womb. You choose number of weeks—gestation is a tricky topic, and I don’t want to be the one to tell you you’re a moron if you considered yourself a person before you were anything other than a mass of cells. Like a tumor. I mean, fuck—should we ban chemotherapy too?”

•”So which community college did you go to?”

•”Your haircut looks so affordable—where’d you get it?”

Establish trust

You want to put the other person at ease, and make them feel like they can tell you anything, so that the small talk will flow like the river of bullshit from Ted Cruz’s mouth. You can accomplish this by offering up a personal detail of your own to start the conversation. For example, tell them the number of sexual partners you’ve had (make sure to distinguish between oral and otherwise), or show them that sore you found on your tongue (optional: ask them what they think it is), or tell them how much money is in your trust fund. You say crossing lines, I say breaking down barriers. #tomato,tomatomothafuckaaaaaa

Throw out random sayings

There’s going to be a lot of dead air, so when you can’t think of anything to say to fill those awkward pauses, just pronounce a tried and true phrase. Like:

•”Well, there’s more than one way to skin your cat.”

•”You gotta go the whole nine months, am I right?”

•”Well, folks, that’s all murder she wrote.”

•”I wouldn’t trust you with a ten foot pole.”

•”No skin off my back/nose.. Teeth?”

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9 thoughts on “As Featured on News Cult: How to Make Small Talk

  1. bensbitterblog says:

    I am claustrophobic so I try not to get in elevators with other people. I like to avoid confrontation as much as possible, so I will turn around and go back to the car if that is what it takes. Nothing worse than having to say words to people that you don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Josh Wrenn says:

    I’ve been on a couple of dates (if you want to call them that) recently, and I tell the person right away, “Just letting you know up front, I hate small talk. Talk to me about something meaningful or let’s just call it now.” Surprisingly, most people have agreed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kevin says:

    Can’t believe I missed this one. I love asking a lot of questions and pretending to care. Making small talk and need friends is so annoying. The best part is when I can talk about Mr. Whiskers like he actually exists. But then again, he does, doesn’t he?

    Liked by 1 person

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