Communicate

This Five-Stage Outline Makes Small Talk Easier

This Five Stage Outline Makes Small Talk Easier

Most of us don’t like small talk. It often feels like a waste of time, and it can be hard to navigate through. An article over on The Wall Street Journal outlines a simple, five-stage method that keeps small talk interesting and useful.

Picture: Allen Sima/Flickr

The five stages of conversation are:

  1. Getting started: This your opening line. This might be a line about something you’re both looking at or experiencing.
  2. Personal introduction: Here is where you mention something about yourself, your name, and then provide a few hints about things you might be able to talk about. The FORD Technique is helpful here if you’re looking for topics.
  3. Pre-topical exploration: This is where you’re looking for common ground. Ask a lot of questions and try to keep the conversation moving forward.
  4. Post-topical elaboration stage: Now you’re just keeping the conversation going comfortably.
  5. Wrap up: As you’d expect, this is the end. Finish off with a “nice chatting with you” or “thanks for those recommendations”, and move along.

As we’ve mentioned before, small talk is often about asking the right questions and turning the conversation into something deeper. It’s not always easy, but if you’re aware of the five stages you can at least keep the conversation moving in the right direction.

How to Be a Better Conversationalist [The Wall Street Journal]