I love gathering with people but I hate small talks. There is nothing more frustrating for me than spending time with other persons and having the feeling that after 3 hours, I have not shared anything substantial about our lives.
Because Christmas is the typical moment in the year, we gather with cousins, aunts we have not seen for a while, and because it is a moment we ought to be awesome, I suggest we work on how to make it authentic and powerful in terms of sharing and not only because we exchange gifts or eat an awful lot.
- The first key way to turning small talk into real smart conversation is using open ended questions. There are many questions we can use Instead of the standard “so, how are you doing?” question, which most of us (99%) usually answer with “really good thanks” and not much more. Here is a bunch of questions suitable for a family gathering: What were the best moments of your 2014? What would you rather forget?How has been your job over those last week before Christmas? What is new in your life? Which event has been the most important for you this year?
2. Have a genuine interest in others (listen) and think about what you would like to know beforehand. I can understand that for some of us, Christmas and New Year’s Eve gatherings are not really desired moments and let’s make the most out of them. If we ask something to someone, the first rule is to be really interested (otherwise, don’t do it because the effect can be worse if you ask and don’t listen to the answer). Prepare yourself beforehand thinking about the last exchanges you had with the persons you are meeting and what you would like to hear as updates from them.
3. Break the mirrors, and the rules. There is a very normal phenomenon that appears in society which is called “mirroring”. Because we try to be polite, we tend to answer people’s questions directly, repeat their observations, or just blandly agree with whatever they say. This is the best ally to small talks and the worst enemy to interesting conversations. My husband is great at doing this: surprising the other with an unexpected or humorous comment, asking a very deep question in a very light moment. Dare to break the social norm, be yourself, take the conversation to a different level and above all, do not speak only about yourself!
Enjoy the celebrations and Have a merry Christmas!