Use the FORD method to become a small talk master
Are you struggling to keep a conversation or maybe you can't even get one started?
Do you become uncomfortable when the room goes quiet and you feel obligated to break the awkward silence, but don't know what to say?
Or maybe you’re tired of hearing the same problems with the world, from politics to pandemics!
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.
don’t worry it’s not about cars if that’s what you was thinking.
What is the FORD method?
The FORD method, is a process used to help build rapport with other people by learning about them through asking questions. FORD is an acronym for family, occupation, recreation and dreams, these are used as topics to start a conversation on. Using this small talk technique can improve your social skills and ability to build strong relationships.
Why is the Ford technique so effective?
The FORD technique covers a range of topics that are hugely influential on our lives. By discussing these subjects in a concise systematic manner, it allows you to learn a lot about what is important to a person in a quick amount of time.
Why is this important? Because when you are trying to build strong relationships with others, you want to build that connection as soon as possible and that’s why first impressions are so important.
Before we go any further, I think we should go over the topics of the FORD method one more time and explain a little bit on why these are used.
What do the letters in the FORD method stand for?
Each individual letter in this acronym stands for a word that you can use as a conversation starter and they all serve there own purpose in helping you build a rapport with others, these are:
F for family
Everyone has a family, right?... Whether you are close to them or not, we all have at least a mother and father. Even if the person you are talking to is adopted or has lost their parents this can be a great place to start because talking about things that are a bit deeper than surface level helps you build a stronger emotional attachment to the person sharing. Studies have also shown that talking about your family to strangers helps you to become significantly closer to them.
O for occupation
One of the easiest topics to start a conversation on is work. Although in some cases work is the last thing people want to talk about, most people have some form of occupation and it’s where they spend most of their waking hours. People’s jobs or education are often related to something they are passionate about, so this can give you insight into what they are interested in.
R for recreation
Recreation refers to anything that others do for relaxation or enjoyment. This is all about fun! This is an easy way to get to know someone on a more personal level, as you get to find out what they do with their spare time. You get to find out people’s hobbies and the ways they like to switch off.
D for dreams
When engaging in small talk, you don’t often get the chance to hear about what people really want from life. Everyone has a dream but, they are often afraid to share it because people HAVEN’T supported them in the past and think you’ll be the same but, if you show that you’re interested, this can make people hold you in very high regard.
Talking about these topics with people can be like being on an emotional roller-coaster with them, you talk about happiness, struggle, fun and excitement.
How to use the FORD method
It’s all well and good knowing the topics that you can start a conversation on, but how do you actually put this technique into practice? Well, the easiest way to learn more about someone is to ask them questions! However there are some rules you need to stick to, to get the best results.
- Listen carefully
- Make comments
- Ask follow-up questions
- Don’t interview them
- Add your own thoughts
Let’s look at these in more detail!
When talking to someone you should listen carefully. Don’t drift into a day dream and ignore them, engage in the conversation. You can show this by using your body language for example, leaning forward and nodding your head when appropriate.
It can be hard to start a conversation, so a simple way to get things going is to make a comment or statement about the person or something else going on in the room.
If you don’t quite understand what the other person is talking about or you think there’s more you can get out of them, it’s a great idea to ask follow-up questions that provoke the person to go a little bit deeper into the topic.
Although the aim of the game is to find out more about the person by asking them questions, you don’t want to keep pestering them and turn it into an interview, or even worse an interrogation.
It’s great to learn more about people but, you shouldn’t keep all your secrets to yourself, it’s a two-way street. Sometimes people are apprehensive to share their opinion but, by you adding your own thoughts, they will feel more inclined to open up.
FORD method example questions
Questions about family
- “see that guy over there? He reminds me of my brother, who’s always the life of the party. Do you have any siblings?”
- “you look like you come from a big family?” this can cause curiosity into why you assumed this.
- “Do you ever wish you had a bigger family?”
- “How did you two meet?” when talking to a couple.
- “how old are your children now? I haven’t seen them in a long time. When talking to parents.
Questions about occupation
- “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
- “that’s interesting! How did you get involved in that line of work?”
- “I always wanted to be a teacher when I was growing up, there’s something about inspiring the next generation. What’s your favorite part of your job?”
- “What do you do for a living?”
- “Have you always wanted to do this?”
Questions about recreation
- “What do you like to do for fun?”
- “what do you get up to in your free time? I like to relax in the sun.
- “Do you go on holiday often? If so when was it?”
- “Have you watched the most recent marvel movie? it’s got some big cliff hangers.”
- “What other hobbies do you have?”
Questions about dreams
- “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?”
- “I’ve always felt that I am here for a reason, do you ever feel like you have a purpose greater than yourself?”
- “What’s something that you would like to try in the future?”
- “what do you want to have accomplished by the time you’re __?”
- “ if you could describe your dream life, what would it be like?”
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.
When and where should you use the FORD method?
You can use the FORD technique at anytime and anyplace, however, you will see the most benefits when you are talking to strangers for the first time. Here are some places where it is important to make a great first impression:
- 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 their responses when using the F.O.R.D. method.
If you have any further questions, remarks or requests for what you would like to see more of, you can comment here on the blog, or message us on our social media channels below.