When you are spending free time with your classmates or work colleagues do you find it easy to start a conversation with them? Or do you prefer to wait until someone speaks to you?
For some students of English it is not easy to start a conversation with their classmates. Here is some good advice to follow when you don't know how to begin.
Some dos and don'ts
Small talk is an important skill because it avoids uncomfortable silences, helps you to get to know your work colleagues or classmates better and makes you sound more fluent.
Timing is important for small talk.
- make small talk when there are others around
- make small talk when people aren't busy
- make small talk when peopler aren't already talking
- make small talk during an important meeting or presentation
- make small talk when people are already discussing a specific topic
- make small talk when someone else is about to give you an explanation
Not all communication in English is about speaking. You need to have the right body language as well if you want to have more conversations in English.
For example, if a group of you are all waiting and you spend the whole time looking at your phone, it is unlikely anyone will come and speak to you.
On the other hand, if you are waiting and you are looking at other people and someone catches your eye and smiles, there is a strong chance they would like to have a chat.
- make eye contact
- look approachable
- sit with crossed arms and legs
- face away from people
- look at your phone all the time
Now you have picked the right time and place, what do you talk about? Everybody knows British talk about the weather. The important idea behind this topic is NOT to complain about it, but to get the other person to SPEAK.
Good conversation starters:
- Funny weather we've been having, haven't we?
- Gosh it's warm at night, I've been having trouble getting to sleep. What about you?
- Good weather for this time of year, isn't it?
Bad conversation starters:
- This weather is awful.
- I've never been so cold.
- It's too hot.
- What's the difference between good conversation starters and bad conversation starters?
Good conversation starters are open questions which means the person you are talking to has to give more than a yes or no answer. Bad conversation starters only require the other person to give a minimal response which ends the conversation. Example:
- This weather is awful. - Yes, it is.