Finding common ground in new relationships is an essential first step for creating rapport and building connections. With strangers and those we don’t know well, this means making “small talk,” an idea that can bring grown men and women to their knees in fear or repulsion. Most people detest making small talk because it is often awkward and painful. Those less gregarious would rather visit the dentist.
Thankfully, the world has changed and we have a new pathway for making fabulous small talk. Here’s the new rule: Instead of asking people to discuss current news, world affairs, sporting events, or the weather (not the weather again!), the information society we live in gives us a new option. Ask people, even strangers, about what they are reading, watching, or listening to that is worth sharing. Make this simple request and you won’t be able to get them to stop talking.
People love to share what they have read, listened to, or watched. This is more true now than ever. Be ready to take notes. Of course, it is just a matter of minutes before they break the cardinal rule of asking you the same question, so also be prepared with your own recommendations. Following this path, you’ll soon find small talk isn’t so small and not nearly as hard as it has been in the past. Leave the weather to those with less imagination.