How To Make Small Talk When You're An Introvert

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woman making small talk at a restaurant
Self

Introversion is a personality trait characterized by a need for being alone in order to recharge. Introverts tend to struggle with figuring out how to make small talk — it's not always that they don't enjoy it as much as an extrovert might, but rather, social interactions that require small talk are often overwhelming for introverts.

How to make small talk when you're an introvert

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As horrifying and exhausting as small talk might feel as an introvert, unfortunately, it's an important part of everyday life. While it seems superficial, small talk is how we begin relating to others and creating the social bonds that humans need to survive. 

Here are a few tips for making small talk a little less stressful.

Try reducing your anxiety.

As an introvert, you likely know all too well the feeling of social anxiety that comes over you when you know you're about to engage in small talk. In order to keep away the anxiety, try to stay positive and rational. Try focusing on some positive affirmations to boost your confidence before a conversation, and work on dealing with your anxiety to make it less debilitating in social situations.

Ask questions.

Introverts don’t like to talk too much. Try using that to your advantage and spend the majority of a conversation listening to what the other person is saying. A good way to keep the conversation flowing (without having to do much of the legwork) is to ask open-ended questions.

When you’re asking questions, you don’t necessarily need to stress too much about how to keep the conversation going. Plus, you can set the tone for what you are comfortable talking about by asking questions about what you want to know and what you would want to speak about regarding yourself.

What's more, the more questions you ask the more likable you become. Researchers in a Harvard study state, “When people are instructed to ask more questions, they are perceived as higher in responsiveness, an interpersonal construct that captures listening, understanding, validation, and care.”

Be specific about yourself.

While asking questions is a good thing, you definitely don't want the conversation to feel like an interrogation. Following up with information about yourself allows the other people to get to know you better and ask you questions instead.

The conversation shouldn’t be one-sided, so the person shouldn’t be the only one sharing things about themselves. You should give “multi-faceted responses” so that the conversation can keep going — one-word responses can easily kill a conversation.

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Go easy on yourself.

Introverts tend to be introspective people and they always think deeply about everything — perhaps too deeply. Due to this, introverts can be hard on themselves when a conversation doesn’t go as planned or if it ends on an awkward note.

Instead of focusing on what went wrong with the conversation, try to focus on the good moments of the conversation. Perhaps the moment that you’re dwelling on isn’t even that serious to the other person. 

Perhaps, it can be a lesson for the next time you have a conversation with someone. Rather than overthinking and beating yourself up about what you feel went wrong, try to learn from those supposed mistakes.

Approach each conversation with a purpose.

If you walk into a conversation thinking it will be pointless, it probably will be. Try to remind yourself that small talk isn’t superficial and that it can serve a legitimate purpose. 

Think of small talk as a way to build the foundation for meaningful conversations. Small talk can be the appetizer before the main course!

Be aware of your body language.

Other people tend to read an introvert’s reserved nature as snobbish or their passion for a subject as too intense. As an introvert, search for cues and respond appropriately. 

If you start noticing the other person begins looking turned off by the conversation, try to engage more in the conversation, and don't be afraid to express your enthusiasm. If the person gets fidgety when you’re speaking for a while on a subject, it may be time to change the subject, ask a question, or just end the conversation.

RELATED: It's Not That Introverts Hate People, We Just Hate Shallow, Petty Small Talk

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Chinyere (pronounced sha-near-ruh) is a writer who covers entertainment and pop culture news, quotes, and zodiac signs.