Communication Skills

100+ Useful Techniques For Great Small Talk

People skills | Small talk | Conversation skills

1. Business Ice Breakers

- What is a typical day?

- What get you started in ...?

- What got you interested in ...?

- What do you enjoy most about your profession?

- What do you see as coming trends?

- What one thing would you do if you know you could not fail

- What was your best job (worst job)?


2. Social Ice Breakers

- What do you think of movie (restaurant / party)?

- Tell me about your best vacation.

- If you could replay any moment, what would it be?

- What one thing would you really like to own, why?

- What is the perfect age?

- Tell my why you are named Andrew.

- What is the best surprise you have received?

- What is your most memorable meal?

- Tell me about your family.

- Who was the scariest person you have ever met?

- Tell me something that most people would never guess about you.


3. Ask open ended questions

Use words like Describe, Tell me, How did and What was the most/least. And, do not forget about follow-up. 'How was your day today', with 'What made it so great', 'How did you celebrate', 'Tell me about it'.

You want to get him/her to open up.


4. Avoid:

What do you do for a living?

Do you have kids?

How was your weekend?


5. Prefer:

Tell me about your work.

Tell me about your family.

What was the best part of your weekend?


6. Positive body language:

Lean forward

Eye contact

Open arms and body

Relax body posture

Force partner to talk

Nod and smile


7. Negative body language:


Covering mouth

Rubbing body parts


Making tapping sounds

Cross arms


8. Safe questions with old acquaintances:

Bring me up to date with your family

What is new with work lately

What has changed in your life since we last met

How has your year been

What is new with your family


9. Dangerous questions:

How's your husband

How's your job at Ford.

How is little Jerry doing at Harvard


10. Assertive language (Good)

Please have the report ready by Tuesday

I believe you can find that report

I am sorry to interrupt

I'll be glad to check with Dario

I had a great time

Please spell that.

I can be there by 3pm

I would be glad to...

What is your name


11. Passive language (Okay)

When will the report be ready?

I would hate to direct you wrong.

Can I interrupt you

I'll have to ask someone

I'll be honest, ...

Can you spell that.

I cannot meet this morning

I would have to...

May I ask your name?


(Source: ‘The Fine Art of Small Talk’ by Debra Fine)


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