How long does it take you to convey a single idea? If you’re bad at small talk, you might not realise when one idea ends and another begins. Try to learn your idea rhythm to get better at small talk.
Photo by Stephan Röhl.
As Reddit user EverySeventeenYears explains, a poor conversation partner can ruin the connection that small talk is meant to build. If you’re worried that you’re dominating the conversation, or just not being interesting, pay attention to how long it takes you to convey a single idea or story. Use this to create a mental “rhythm” for your conversation:
I’ll define the rhythm of your speech as the rate at which your words communicate a single idea. A “beat” is a single idea unit. Next time you’re talking to someone, pay attention to this: how long did it take for you to tell Jenny that a bird flew into your house on Sunday? Two minutes? That’s one thought communicated, one beat.
You might feel compelled to keep talking to Jenny. You want to tell her how difficult it was to get the bird dislodged from the space above your kitchen cabinets, or what kind of bird it was, or about that summer you spent working at a chicken farm when you were sixteen. These things are all relevant, but they all compose a new beat in the song that is this conversation. Before you add another beat, you need to let Jenny respond.
Being aware of these beats can help when you’re on the other side of the conversation, too. Learning when another person’s beat ends can give you a cue when it’s ok to interrupt, or to change the topics. When you’re the one doing the talking, you can craft your stories around the conversation rhythm so that they’re succinct, interesting, and maintain the listener’s attention for the entire duration.