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Whether you’re trying to be social at a party, make a friend or get a date, the art of making small talk can be a little difficult if you are not endowed with the gift of gab. Let’s face it—sometimes you just feel instant chemistry between yourself and a stranger, but you don’t have the balls to say something to them. What we’ve got here are 6 tips to make small talk with anyone. Try them out if you see someone who you’d like to get to know better.

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Start something. If you sit around like a schmuck and wait for someone to suddenly shower you with conversation; you’ll be sitting and staring at the wall all night. Good things do not always come to those who wait, so get off your ass and start a conversation yourself. If you’re going to a social event, have some potential discussion topics in mind before you get there and you’ll be able to utilize small talk as effortlessly and frequently as Paula Deen utilizes butter.

Look for common interests. Let’s say you see a hot girl at the bus stop you want to make small talk with. What’s she doing while she waits? What’s she wearing? Do you see anything about her that suggests an interest that she shares with you, like reading a book by an author you like, wearing a T-shirt representing a band you listen to, or maybe she has the same tramp stamp you have? Don’t take these little things for granted—they are there to promote conversation from like-minded people.

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Don’t get too personal. If you’re aiming for small talk with someone you met two seconds ago, it’s best not to discuss exceedingly personal things like your infected foreskin or how much you enjoy shoving root vegetables up your ass. If they kick off this kind of intimate chit-chat and you’re up for it, then engage. Otherwise, leave your sex life, health, political views, and religious beliefs on the back burner until the person lets you know they’re comfortable talking about such things

Keep discussion topics broad. If you constantly want to chat about one thing—like your extensive assortment of Rainbow Dash toys—people will probably find you boring. It’s okay to be proud of your expertise in a certain area, but shut up about it once in a while and make small talk about something else. If you find a fellow Brony, you can probably chatter about Ponies all night over drinks, but when you’re intermingled with non-Pony fans, try talking about more universal things like tastes in music or maybe employment. These are topics other people can make small talk about without needing to gracelessly derail from a tremendously specific subject. Basically, have something resembling a life and your horizons will be automatically broadened.

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Listen. This is a big one, especially with women. Yes, do some of the talking, but shut your pie hole and listen now and then too; whomever you’ve singled out won’t be too interested if they can’t get a word of small talk in edgewise. Chicks dig guys who listen, especially if they are looking them in the eye and not in the cleavage (if it’s too tempting, sneak a glance when she’s not looking). 

Know when to call it quits. Once in a great while, you meet someone you can really connect with and the small talk flows like beer in a bar. But usually you have to know when the conversation fuse with this person has burned out. Thank them for the chitchat and tell them you need to use the bathroom or get a drink or something; if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll give you a phone number or an email to continue to chat in the future.