'Break The Mirror' For Better Small Talk

Most of us don't really like small talk. It's hard to keep it engaging, and it often feels like filler while we wait for something else to happen. Sometimes, we even get to the point where it's so boring we just mirror our responses. Over at TED, writers Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker show how to break that mirror.

Picture: JD Hancock/Flickr

When small talk starts to fizzle out, we tend to just answer questions directly, repeat their observations, or just agree with them. That makes for pretty bad conversation. Here's how to get out of it:

Mirrored example:

James: It's a beautiful day!

John: Yes, it is a beautiful day!

See? By mirroring James's opinion and language, John has followed the social norm, but he's also paralysed the discussion and missed a moment of fun. Instead, John needs to practice the art of disruption and move the dialogue forward:

Non-mirrored example:

James: It's a beautiful day!

John: They say that the weather was just like this when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. If that actually happened.

See? Now James and John are talking! Be provocative. Absurdity is underrated.

Their example might be a bit extreme, but it's certainly a better way to get into a real conversation.

How To Turn Small Talk Into Smart Conversation [TED]


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