The art of making small talk can be baffling and even frightening for people with introverted personality traits! Here are six tips for making conversation for introverts plus a bonus tip for being more likeable.
Before the tips, a quip:
“In conversation avoid the extremes of forwardness and reserve.” ~ Marcus Porcius Cato “The Elder.”
When you’re making small talk, you don’t want to be too direct or “nosy”, nor do you want to be too shy and retiring. The key to having a great conversation – whether you’re an introvert or not – is to strike a nice balance between being curious and being quiet.
The tips below explain it better; for more info on being comfortable with people, read How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And, here are a few suggestions on making small talk for people with introverted personality traits…
How to Make Conversation for Introverts – Tips for Small Talk
1. Be curious about other people. “People are flattered when you find them appealing – and they naturally reciprocate,” says Dr Ann Demarais, psychologist and co-author of First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You. Showing interest in others increases your likeability factor because it shows you’re confident. “And when you’re confident, you appear more attractive,” she says.
2. Follow up on bits of information. This is one of my favorite tips for making small talk because people often drop hints in their conversations! For instance, if someone mentions something about the price of gas, then ask what kind of car she has, or how often he has to gas up. People leave “breadcrumbs” in their conversational trails…you need only pick them up!
3. Follow up on your previous conversations. If an acquaintance mentioned a particular topic in the past (eg, a sick dog, job promotion, house for sale, etc), then bring it up now. This is an easy way for introverts to show their interest in others, and it increases your “likeability factor” – which helps you be more comfortable and less nervous when talking to people.
4. Really listen to what other people say. There’s no point in pretending to be curious about others if you don’t really care about them, or if you don’t really listen to them. In fact, it could backfire! To make small talk, develop a genuine, sincere attitude towards people. Listen to their words, and follow up on what your gut tells you to say or do next.
5. Smile with your eyes. If your face feels and looks pleasant and happy, your conversation partner will feel relaxed. A happy face looks approachable and friendly. To keep your face open and happy, think positive thoughts: recall your last vacation, a funny joke, or last night’s episode of “Two and a Half Men.” Making conversation for introverts is easier if you’re happy and relaxed.
6. Share positive experiences. Making conversation is much more fun – even for people with introverted personality traits – if you talk about positive things. Discuss those things in the above tip (your last vacation, a funny joke, or last night’s episode of “Two and a Half Men”). Avoid negativity and complaining, because it stops small talk in its tracks – and it won’t make you a more likeable person.
7. Share your mistakes. Psychological research shows that people who make mistakes are more likeable than those who appear to be perfect. People who make mistakes are seen as more approachable and less judgmental than perfect people – so don’t be afraid to let all your introverted personality traits shine through! This will make people like you because they’ll feel you’re normal and human…just like they are.
Bonus tip for small talk: wear a light scent. Research from Northwestern University shows that a light lemon smell increases your “likeability factor.” You don’t have to smell like citrus to make people like you – any pleasant, barely perceptible scent is effective. A light scent may give you confidence, especially if you have introverted personality traits.
If you’re a lonely introvert, read How to Stop Being Lonely – 10 Tips for Loneliness.
And if you have any questions or comments on these tips for small talk, please share below…
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.