how to be a small talk master
Are you struggling to keep a conversation or even just getting one started? Do you become uncomfortable when the awkward silences happen? Well here at brain boosted we’ve learnt about a new technique we like to call the FORD technique this is a skill that can be used to start a conversation with new people or just when your running out of things to say. And don’t worry it’s not about cars if that’s what you was thinking. FORD is an acronym for family, occupation, recreation and dreams these will become your conversation starters and make you a small talk master. Firstly you need to know some background on how to be involved in a conversation.
We all know first impression are very important in building rapport with other’s and If you really want to cut through the awkwardness, it's important not only to ask questions, but to really listen to the person's answers. Next, comment on them, and ask follow-up questions, not to many though because you don’t want to interview them just build a relationship with them, and before you know it, you'll be deep in conversation with a new friend! This method can be useful at many places here’s some we thought of:
- trade shows/marketing show
- Wedding receptions
- Meeting your hosts/business meetings
- Engaging clients
Not everyone will be equally responsive to the questions you ask. Be patient and take time to listen to responses when using the F.O.R.D. method. Let’s get into this!
F Is for Family
Our families are the first people we get to know and they become your support network as we share so many emotions and experiences with them. Study’s have shown that talking about your family with strangers helps you to become significantly closer to them however, just bringing up someone’s family could seem brash and make the person feel uncomfortable so the way to bring up family for example is to talk about your family first eg. You are at a party and you are talking to someone and you both see a guy throwing up some shapes and trying to dance. You would say to the person “see that guy over there? He reminds me of my brother, who’s always the life of the party. Do you have any siblings?” This helps branch the conversation towards family and because you’re opening up first it makes the person feel less guarded about opening up. The follow up if they have no siblings could be “do you ever wish you had any?" Another way of bringing up family is by use non-sequiturs - basically making an assumption on the person. for example you could say “you look like you come from a big family” this can cause two types of reply’s 1. “Why do you think that” which is when the person is curious on why you said it and number 2. They will answer with “yes I do how did you know?” Or “no but I would like to of” which leads to more talking.
O Is for Occupation
It’s been said that 45% of our life is spent on our work and school. Talking about occupation is one of the easiest things to as it’s one of the most talked about topics and is classed as surface level convo. say your on a date and and you ask about a person's occupation to start a work-related conversation. Questions might include "What line of work are you in?" ,"How do you like your job?" or "That's interesting, how did you end up doing that sort of work?" Let’s use the 1st one for example and her response is “I’m a teacher” instead of doing what most people do, asking more and more questions about it like “what age of kids” you want to stop interviewing and get deeper. What you want to do is add in comments at least once like “when I was younger I wanted to teach people, I like inspiring others” we would advise you to start with this topic first as it’s one of the easiest to get into.
R Is for Recreation
Recreation refers to anything that others do for relaxation or enjoyment. Everyone has one. Just like in the occupation topic you want to start of the conversation with surface level questions for example questions you might ask include "What do you like to do for fun?" ,"What do you do on the weekends?" or "Do you go on vacation often?" This can be a bit harder than occupation as you don’t always know about the persons interests, but don’t worry all you have to do is go into the conversation with the right mindset- why does this person enjoy this thing. “What do enjoy doing” and the response is “I love reading brain boosted blogs” you could say “I’ve heard about them before i need to check them out at www.brainboostedshop.com ;p 🔌” questions like this make people feel really important and they’re being listened to it also allows them to open up as much as they want.
D Is for Dreams
The last part of the FORD technique involves asking questions about others dreams this can be the most powerful topic as everyone has one and people feel so emotionally attached to them. Most people don’t chase there dreams as there is often little to no support around them so you show that you care and that your interested this can make people hold you in high regard. However dreams can often be hard to talk about for others as they have always been told to live a "normal" life so we advise you save this one until the end as you will have got to know the person better and you will have more of a rapport with them. Don't be afraid to get creative with questions like "What have you always wanted to do?" ,"If you could travel anywhere, what place would you visit?" or "Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?" You can use these in 2 different ways. 1. After listening to the person and there interests you may be able to make assumptions about what there dreams are, so the person enjoys “the gym” This could mean that they would like to be a gym instructor or a life coach as they’re into healthy living. 2. You could be at work and you see someone a bit down in the dumps about work and you just approach them and say "do you ever feel like there’s more to life than just the “normal” 9-5? Do you ever feel like your purpose is something greater than yourself?”
Don't feel bad if the other person does not immediately pick up on the topics that you suggest. It may take a few attempts before you find something that gets that person interested in talking. Be sure to listen and reflect back what you hear. You might even help that person develop insight to make changes for the future