Making Small Talk: Beginners' Guide

Friday, May 18, 2012

Do you find yourself tongue-tied while talking to strangers at social gatherings? Does nobody take you seriously? Has this problem turned your grape-like self-esteem into a raisin? If your answer is yes, you need to immerse yourself in this post and let osmosis take place so that you appear to be brimming with charm, knowledge, and worthiness in full glory.

A few years ago, I used to be a squeaky mouse surrounded by croaking frogs, crowing crows, and braying donkeys at social gatherings. Thanks to my astute observation skills and perseverance, I have learned some tricks and have successfully metamorphosed into a talking rat. I learned everything the hard way, but now I want to share my knowledge and expertise here for your benefit. I wish I had such guidance before I began socializing.

So if you are desperate to jump-start your social life, you need to embrace the following traits.

1. Confidence—To show how busy and important you are, never arrive at any event on time. When you make your own grand entrance at least two hours late, everyone’s eyes will be fixed on you. Take this opportunity to greet them loudly and make your presence felt. Try to introduce yourself to all new people in the room, and remember to mention your nationality, religion, caste and net worth. Make sure they understand that you belong to a superior race to theirs.


(Modified from a image from Cartoon Stock)
2. Show and tell: You need to be your own trumpeter. Otherwise you will end up being a peacock dancing in the jungle. In a humble manner, disclose the brand names and values of your clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, car, furniture and other luxury possessions. You may also extol the recently discovered restaurants or shopping malls, the new interiors of your home, or the impending foreign travel. These are just a few examples. The scope here is limitless.

3. Honesty—Always be truthful and stand your ground. If you go around doling out fake compliments, gushing equally over mules, asses, burros, donkeys, and Arabian horses, a discerning person like me will start doubting your sincerity. You have to make the distinction. Let people know about their sartorial or physical shortcomings. You should clearly point out if they are underweight or overweight, how bad their haircut is, or that their shoes don’t go with their outfit. Similarly, you can always interrupt the conversation of two people talking in order to contradict their statements. For example, if you hear a person say, “The grass is green,” it is your duty to correct him with right information that it is not all green, but brown and yellow at some places. Stick to your statements. Never agree with everything that everyone says, or you would end up looking wimpy.

4. Your work experience—If you still find yourself speechless in social situations, try to change the topic of conversation to the area of your specialization or skills. If you are a good gossiper, you can invent stories and rumors about your mutual friends. Students can talk about how their school or college is the best, most rigorous in the country, despite the awful professors. A new mom or dad can talk in detail how many times their baby poos and pees.

5. General awareness—You don’t have to read whole news articles or watch complete news coverage on television; just skim the headlines and know the buzzwords. Whether or not you actually know anything about the topic, you must form a strong opinion on it. A few strong words and a loud voice will do the rest. Knowledge and intelligence are overrated. According to your mood, you can either assert that the country is going to the dogs, or it is shining. It is not difficult to come up with evidences supporting either of the claims.

If you have read this far, you have already won half the battle. To accomplish the mission, all you need is a little bit of practice. Just a couple of sessions later, you will become a great talker. And every time you attend a gathering, you can repeat your stories, because no one would remember what you had said the other day.

PS: This is just a beginners' guide. To Get to the Top you should take an advanced course on The Ten Rules for Social Success with Suhel Seth.

32 comments:

  1. i loved your tongue in cheek advice--i meet these wannabe's everywhere,now tell me how to maintain my composure when i am saddled with one.

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    1. Ha ha... you nailed it! Looks like I need to write another advice column.... :D

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  2. Wicked and thoroughly enjoyable. Fabulous observations, Giribala!

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  3. good giri!! Why did you missed shopping part gossips??
    Macy's one day sale, Dillard's 40%, Kohls 30% coupon, pl add. Hahahaha...

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    1. Good observation, Anchal!!! I had written a line, which got edited out. I will copy it here for you :-)
      You can enlighten others about the brand names of your clothes etc., and acquaint them with their prices, not the amount you paid after 20% seasonal sale over 30% regular sale over 80% clearance price, but the original prices.

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  4. Enjoyed every word here.
    But,please....cant stand this man Seth

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    1. Yeah, I dislike Suhel Seth a lot. Have you watched him on any of the TV shows -- he is cocky, Mr. know-it-all with an inflated ego.

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    2. Rachna, I have watched him a few times. You described him well :-)

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  5. It is a wicked advice and hilarious at some points... I cannot make small talk.. I don't know if it will help me but next time I will be meeting someone, I will surely be thinking about this pot.. :)

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  6. About the best self-help advice I have ever read and I feel I need to look no further. Long Live Grist Mill!

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  7. Umm, nice blog entry but the pedant in me wants me to tell you that "Making Small Talks" is idiomatically incorrect, it should be "Making Small Talk" (singular, not plural).

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    1. Thanks a lot! Corrected!! I am still a student of English language. Sometimes I am horrified at my mistakes :-)

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  8. ^Not to worry; cmus is here to save the day! Let me horrify you more, Giri.
    *braying donkeys

    I think I showed enough confidence there. :P (Reply button for the above comment is not active for some reason.)

    And, watching Arnab and Suhel make "small" talk on Times Now is always a pleasure.

    P.S. - The best part of your blogs is the hidden truths amidst the sarcasm. For instance, 'If you go around doling out fake compliments, gushing equally over mules, asses, burros, donkeys, and Arabian horses, a discerning person like me will start doubting your sincerity.' I think every blogger would agree with that. :)

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    1. Thanks a lot!! I am always grateful for the corrections! I am horrified a bit, but feel very happy after correcting a typo or grammatical error :-)
      PS: Shush that was meant to be hidden :D

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  9. Great tips Giri!! I am for sure gonna try them. Thanks :-)

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  10. Never agree with everything that everyone says, or you would end up looking wimpy.... ! he he, kisi ki yaad aa gayee :)

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    1. Haha....maine bhee kisi ko yaad karte hue hee likha tha :-)

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  11. Oh thank you so much for this guide. I could do with it but I would like an advanced course from the Gristmill, not Suhel Seth :D What a wonderful teacher you are :D

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    1. Hmm...advance course... I am so much in demand :-|

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  12. What about the "Baby Talk" ...your baby drools, so does mine! Viola a connection is formed. ugh.

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  13. This sounds like a typical Delhi party where everybody talks and no one listens :D

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  14. Now get Grist Mill on the twitter like the master himself (Suhel Seth)

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    1. Someday I will surely start following the master's footsteps....

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  15. Let the talkers have a field day. People like me cannot match them however much we try. Great post!

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    1. Thanks for reading! You have already laid down your weapons :-/

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