How to Master Small Talk (and why)

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How to Master Small Talk and why

Mastering small talk will help boost your confidence and get your foot in the door with new dates. If you’ve been on a first date, excited and confident because this time you felt this time it’s going to work, they are the one I’ve been looking for, I feel a connection and we haven’t even met. Then out of nowhere you don’t know what to say, your mind freezes and you’re tongue tied.  Or, you run across the perfect dating profile but you don’t want to screw it up because you only have one shot and you don’t know how to open the conversation.

Small talk does serve a purpose and using the three-step process I lay out in this article, making small talk will be easier, anyone can learn it, and once you nail it, your confidence will climb with any date, no matter the person, the situation, or your experience.

I’m going to talk about

  • WHY make small talk
  • WHAT does small talk do
  • WHEN to make small talk
  • HOW to master small talk

1- Why make small talk?

First, mastering small talk is not always a waste of time.
You make small talk because it gives you time to assess the other person, their interest, their intent, which you can then use to determine how to bring them closer to you. After all, getting them to open up and be receptive is the ultimate goal.

If you are making small talk with someone you just met or you’re on a first date, ask yourself – what is your goal  – most likely you want them to continue talking to you, become more comfortable, you want to spark or incentivize them to want to know more.

Small talk is used to get your foot in the door. It takes trivial talk into conversation. You want to establish a rapport and find something in common so you can continue the conversation and build on it.

You do that by making (and mastering) small talk

man and woman talking at a counter


2- What is small talk? 

Small talk is talk that doesn’t really go far, its baby steps, it’s non-invasive, polite, short conversation – like the weather, the parking, the day – small talk is so SMALL and rather insignificant it allows the other person to respond.
It opens the door.
It prompts them to engage.
It smooths out the situation.
It buys you time to read the other person and gauge their interest.


3- When (and when not) to make small talk. 

Some say small talk is a waste of time, in some ways that is true. Why beat around the bush?

In certain situations this is very well the case: if you are on a dating site and you’re introducing yourself, don’t waste time. If you find someone you’re interested in, get in there and invite them out right away. Most people on dating sides are burned out; they are frustrated with flaky replies or not getting a response at all. In this situation, small talk will not work in your favor. It’s better to be more direct and simply ask them out.

However, if you are meeting someone at an event or on a first date, mastering small talk is an effective lead in. It’s a socially accepted way of introducing yourself or starting a conversation, it’s like shaking someone’s hand. It’s a ritualistic human behavior, and humans follow social norms and behavioral patterns – like dating.

Therefore, no matter how much you dislike small talk or feel uncomfortable doing it, it is an important process and it offers value so you may as well invest in yourself and in your success by learning how to master small talk. Learning to make effective small talk shows them you ‘fit in’, you’re a normal societal member, you know how to communicate, you are confident.


4- So the big question is how to make and master small talk

Now that you know why and when small talk can be useful on a date, let’s talk about HOW to make small talk. There is a different between small talk that goes nowhere, and small talk that gives you an ‘in’.

If you want her attention, get creative.  Spend some time planning it and out thinking it over. Be invested in the subject. Take time thinking about a subject. I’m not talking about one-liners, or phrases like “have you been here before”. Dig deeper and ask a meaningful question, even if it’s lighthearted. If you just met at a coffee shop or cafe, say something like “I come here just for the cookies, if you’ve never tried one, it just might change your life.” Questions or suggested questions prompt her to respond.

If you’re the one starting the conversation, don’t expect her to put in the work and engage back if you don’t invest in the time yourself.

A FEW POINTERS for mastering small talk: 

Remember, small talk provides you with time to assess their interest. 

If they are receptive, they’ll laugh, respond with a question, or say something back right away. Any of those responses are likely an indication you’re on the right track. It’s an invitation to keep going. So keep going! You could expand on whatever topic you just brought up.

A BIG TIP for mastering small talk

Gauging their interest/reading them is a different stage of the process. Whatever you do, hold eye contact the entire time. Don’t look away, resist the temptation, practice if you need to, but keep their gaze from the minute you open your mouth until they respond. Even if it’s a nominal response, eye lock triggers a need human urge to reply.

If they don’t make eye contact, their arms are crossed in front of them, they take a step back or curtly reply with a hmmm or ahhhh, then either you have a bit more work to do or she’s just not into it.

Keep in mind some women don’t like small talk.

They say small talk is a waste of time or it is for guys who are pussies. What she really means is grow some balls and engage in talk that is a lead-in to a conversation. Bring something of value to the table. Don’t talk about the weather.  Don’t toss out one-liners that you’ve picked up on some dating  site, or toss out a simple ‘how are you’ line expecting her to be impressed, and pick up the conversation, (see section 4 about how to make and master small talk).

Man and woman smiling and talking

Use this 3-step process to get past the hurdle of them closing off, shutting the door, or putting up a wall.

1 – Your ultimate goal its to get GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR
2 – Think of what you’re going to say – you want dialogue not one-word replies. Use questions; power statements; make them laugh; don’t be vague.
3 – HOLD eye contact the entire time. 

Look at small talk as a tool to get to the next step, which is conversation. 

So go ahead jot this down in the notes on your phone to peek at right before your next first date.

I want you to succeed in your dating life, and I want your relationships to be fulfilling and engaging! For more dating tips, visit the dating section on my website, or for private mentoring visit my Red Couch.




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