Welcome to edition #22 of our news series, where we share with you the latest resources we’ve found on social skills, making friends, and more. In this edition, we’ll discuss a simple strategy for mastering small talk and show you that making friends as an adult doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter so you don’t miss any future editions!
A Simple Strategy for Mastering Small Talk
Talking to strangers can be wistfully uncomfortable. Even if you are not introverted by nature, our natural instinct is to stare at our phones or retreat into headphones rather than strike up a conversation. Small talk can build connections, and there is strong scientific evidence that talking to people – even strangers – is actually good for your health. But how do you start?
This NY Magazine article suggests a simple yet brilliant technique that helps you avoid the stereotypical commenting on the weather and master the art of small talk. It starts by “triangulating” the situation between you and a stranger: notice something the two of you are both observing and comment on it. Examples might include seeing someone in a weird outfit, a piece of public art, or someone preaching in the street. This strategy will almost always lead to a conversation.
People often ask me how they can start a conversation. I advise them to go to local events to make new people, and they wonder how to start conversations with strangers without sounding like they’re all scripted or boring. Instead of getting creative, the way you start a conversation is the natural way: you talk about the environment and the other people.
So for example if you are with a hiking group of course you talk about hiking! Then you might wonder “how do I go from there?”
That subject – about the environment that brought you together – can be a window in their lives and your life. You can ask about how long they’ve been hiking. You can also ask about any other sports they like. And that can go to other subjects and other things that’s going on in their lives.
But remember not to turn it into an interview. Each time you ask questions about someone you need to share that same kind of information about yourself.
It’s a simple as that. You need some practice and you need to learn how to make small talk. Learn that, and you’re well on your way to mastering your social skills to a point where you can meet new people anywhere and potentially turn them into friends.
Making Friends as an Adult is Not That Complicated!
One of the unfortunate things that happens to us as we become adults is our lack of willingness to meet new friends. Life changes make us busy and making an effort to create and keep relationships can be exhausting. But no matter how old you are, being open to new friendships is essential and opens you up to a world of possibilities. And it’s not as scary or complicated as you might think!
This article on iDiva shares a few simple ways to connect with potential friends as an adult. For starters, it advises getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new! You may find yourself interacting with people you normally wouldn’t in your daily routine. Being yourself is equally as important; as an adult people can see right through the act of trying to fit in. This also ensures you will end up with friends that have similar interests and values. Most importantly, it’s imperative to keep an open mind about allowing new people into your life. You never know when and where a potential friendship can start.
Making friends as an adult is not the same as when you’re a kid. It’s a challenge because you kind of need to re-learn how to do it. Fortunately it’s a skill. And like any other skill you can learn it. It’s like riding a bicycle. If you learn it now you can still do it 10 years later.
Sure, you need to be yourself. But you need to show your social self. And if it’s been a while since you have shown that social part of you, it’s maybe now the time to learn and practice how to make friends, as an adult.
First, you need to join one or two social groups or social communities; they need to be the kind that meet once or twice a month. Go to the events, meet new people, practice making small talk, and get your social life going.
If you want to speed up that process and avoid making mistakes that can discourage you, then I recommend that you check out my book and my training. In it, I share with you every skill that you would need: from finding the right places where to socialize, all the way to meeting friends and keeping them.
I made the mistakes over the years but now you can avoid them yourself.
Best of luck!
– Paul Sanders