The art of small talk

Ben Reed —  December 22, 2010 — 5 Comments

As Christmas rolls around, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with a lot of people you don’t normally spend a lot of time with. ¬†People you don’t¬†know or care about remember much about because you don’t get to see them that often. ¬†And for most, the holidays involve sitting around and…talking.

So what do you do when your random uncle plops down beside you and it gets awkward because he doesn’t say anything? ¬†Or your grandpa’s younger cousin that you’ve never seen before…what happens when she insists on sitting in the recliner across from you, and you have nothing in common?

Enter the art of small talk.

Small talk can carry you through the thickest difficult moments.  And it can help you seem like a hero who knows everybody.

Or, just like years past, if you don’t do it right, it can make you look like the jerk that hates Christmas. ¬†And nobody wants to be that guy.

The art of small talk

1. How’s work going? Not a bad leading question. ¬†Since most people work, you’re pretty safe here.

2. Where’s the rest of your family? Whether they’re somewhere else in the house, or they didn’t make it down this year, you’ve got your bases covered.

3. Did you try that ______? (examples include ham, turkey, pork tenderloin, pecan pie, etc.) ¬†In this, you don’t even have to say whether you like the item in question or not. ¬†Don’t show all of your cards right off the bat.

4. Gosh, how long has it been? Classic.

5. How are the kids? Everybody likes talking about their own children.  Everybody.

6.¬†Talk about your kids. Easy, no? ¬†See…told you you could do this. ¬†Remember, everybody likes to talk about their children. ¬†You included.

6. So what keeps you guys busy these days? Hobbies, pastimes, TV shows, and movies are always easy to talk about.

7. How was the drive in? Since we’re in the Christmas season, traffic was probably bad. ¬†The kids probably complained. ¬†They probably left later than they wanted. ¬†This is a guaranteed winner. ¬†Trust me.

8. You guys have any snow yet back home? If you live in a warm climate (like I do), this is a time to lament not having any snow in your area.

9. It’s so _____ (either ‘cold’ or ‘warm’) outside! Think quick on your toes. ¬†This one’s not so tough.

10. I see you’ve been all over Facebook lately. Oh, wait…that’s what my family tells me. ¬†Scratch that.

11. How long are you guys hanging around?

12. The _____ (sports team from their area) is doing ______ (either ‘good’ or ‘bad’) this year. This is a dangerous one. ¬†If you don’t remember where the person’s from, or don’t know which team(s) are in their area, just steer clear of this one.

13. Have you seen Uncle ______? He’s looking good this year, isn’t he? Gotta be careful here, too. ¬†If Uncle _____ isn’t looking great, your cover will be sniffed out.

14. Look at all those gifts! By the time all of the family arrives, there will likely be lots of gifts under the tree.  Capitalize on it.

15. So what else is going on? Keep this one in your back pocket.  After all other questions are exhausted, you can come back and back to this one.

Now you’re ready for any Christmas moment that your family may throw your way.

Got any additions for me?

 

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Ben Reed

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Christ follower, husband, father, writer, pastor of small groups at Long Hollow Baptist Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.