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S1E12 - Learning How to Small Talk

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

Episode Description:

In this episode, I talk about the very much dreaded activity: Small Talk. No one likes and most people don’t know how to do it or at least do it very well. I talk about how even though we all hate small talk, it has its benefits, especially in the workplace and building relationships. I share some of the tips I have. By no means am I a professional small talker, so if you have any pointers, please let me know what you do. I’d love to get some new pointers. If you like the show, please follow me on social media to get the latest updates on new episodes.

Thought it was humorous, no offence to the writer:


Some parts of the transcript may be edited for better readability, but the content remains the same. Mostly removed duplicate words, vocal filler words, and added/removed some words for clarification. Added text are in fuchsia.


Hey everyone! This is Meliza, and I'm The Talkative Introvert.


I don't know why, but it feels like I haven't done an episode by myself in a long time. It feels like forever since I just sat alone in my office to record an episode. Even though in my last two episodes, I wasn't actually sitting next to anyone, it was over Zoom. It still felt like they were there. You know what I mean. But I have really enjoyed doing those interviews. And I definitely want to do more in the future. And I'll definitely bring them back Mia and Casey. Because those were definitely a whole lot of fun. But it is nice to come back and do a solo episode. Because as my fellow introverts know, it can be pretty exhausting talking to someone. Even though we're not actually physically next to each other, and face to face, it's still interacting with someone, and it's still socializing. So, it is pretty tiring.


Anyways, so in today's episode, we're going to talk about small talk. Yes, the very much dreaded activity. Most of us hate it, most of us don't even know how to do it, or at least not very well. Honestly, I know a lot of extroverts who hate it, too. But there's definitely some benefits to small talk. And I will get into that later on. So usually, by this time, if you've listened to my previous episodes, I do a little podcast journey. But to be honest, this is episode 12, I think. Nothing new has really happened. I think I'm finally getting used to it. I've got my mic setup, I've got my new headphones, I've figured out the software. I've pretty much gotten everything down. So, like, I may just not do so much of the podcast journey anymore. Just because now, it's becoming a routine. And I'm finally understanding how to do it. And it's super easy now. And it's definitely not as frustrating as it used to be, trying to figure everything out. But now it's like smooth sailing. But I do have to plug Buzzsprout. I'm sure you've heard it in the last two episodes. I have been talking about Buzzsprout. Because Buzzsprout is where I host my podcast. If you're an aspiring podcaster like myself, I highly suggest using Buzzsprout to host your podcast. Buzzsprout makes it easy for any aspiring podcaster to get started and get listed on all the popular podcast platforms with their easy-to-follow instructions and numerous videos and resources. If you're thinking about starting a podcast, I definitely would go with Buzzsprout. Please follow the link in the description to let them know I sent you and to support the show. New podcasters get $20 amazon gift card when you sign up for a paid plan. If you do start a podcast, please let me know. Because I honestly and truly would love to know about it. I would love to hear all about it. Because I love podcasts. And I listen to podcasts almost daily. So please let me know if you start a podcast.


Honestly, during this whole thing, I've actually discovered a lot of new podcasts. And there's actually a lot of other introvert podcasts out there. It's really interesting to see their perspective on everything. And because I've mentioned before, it's definitely a spectrum. Not everyone is the same. So, it's really cool to see how other introverts are and how they react to different things and what do they do to go about their lives in this extrovert world that we live in. So as part of that, this segues into our main episode, which is all about small talk. And in case you don't know what small talk is, which I'm sure you do, but just in case. According to Wikipedia, and yes, I use Wikipedia just because I really like their definition of small talk. But according to Wikipedia, 'Small talk is an informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed. In a nutshell, it is a polite conversation about unimportant things.' If you listen to my previous episode, you know that most introverts value one-on-one intimate conversations with close friends and family. So that's basically the complete opposite of small talk. And for me, personally, I hate small talk. I hate it so much. Because like Wikipedia said, they're polite conversations about unimportant things. Keyword being 'unimportant'. So, I definitely dread it. I am definitely with my introvert colleagues. It's definitely one of those things that we dread. Because during small talk, there tends to be awkward silences sometimes. I've suffered from awkward silences. And a really great example of that is like this one time, we went to my husband's co-worker's place to go pick up exercise equipment. And she started a conversation, but then I didn't know how to continue it on. I don't know. And we just ended up standing there in silence. But luckily, Link saved the day. So, Link is my dog. And he was in the car, and she spotted him, and she got really excited. And she's like, "Oh my God, I didn't know you're gonna bring your dog." And I was like, oh my God, thank you Link! Because I don't know how long we could stand there in silence. But I felt like it was silent for too long. But it would have been weird, if I just like all of a sudden came up with something to talk about. But that happens. But small talk is something that we just have to deal with. It's just what people do. Luckily though, I've learned how to small talk. And I've learned how to properly small talk, and make it become more beneficial to me, especially in the workplace. Because I definitely wasn't good at it. I definitely was terrible at it.


Based on that story I just told you, obviously it's still a work in progress. I'm still practicing but, for sure, better than how I used to be. And honestly, I am so amazed by people who can do it properly and can do it so well. Like Brandon, my husband is super great at small talk. And I asked him about it. And he said he learned how to get better at it because of his job. Which is kind of the same situation as me. But people also just gravitate towards him. Unlike me, he has this friendly aura around him, I guess. He's very approachable. He doesn't look mean like I do. He doesn't have an RBF like I do. And it also doesn't hurt that he's also really handsome. But seriously, people just love talking to him. And he can easily start a conversation. He can easily conduct small talk, and then turn it into a full-blown conversation. And that's just crazy. I don't know why that's so amazing, but it is definitely like an amazing trait that not a lot of people have.


And then another person like my best friend Bailey, she's amazing at it too. Like, there are literally times that I'm just waiting on her. Because she also has a very approachable personality. And I don't know, she can figure out what to say to a person instantly. And people gravitate towards her as well. And they love talking to her and she could carry on a conversation like with Brandon. And she can turn small talk into a full-blown conversation, and she can make it very engaging. I'll have her on a podcast soon. You'll see, you'll hear first-hand how well she is just carrying on a conversation. So, for me, majority of small talk happens in the office. Like me in the office is the absolute worst. So much so, that I tend to avoid the break room. So, when we were in quarantine, and we were going into the office, there's a small group of us, who come in earlier than everybody else. I think I come in maybe an hour or half an hour earlier than everybody else. And it's so nice. Like my last couple of projects ago, I used to come into work, I think at six or six thirty. Super early in the morning. And it's just so nice because I get two three hours to myself. Because people tend to not like going that early. And also, some people have kids so they can't go in that early. But man! It is so nice and quiet. And if I could, I'd probably do the six o'clock schedule again if my boss will ever permit that. But honestly, we're in quarantine so it doesn't matter anymore. But the nice thing about getting in early is that I have a little 'Me Time' and it's very chill. And there's not a lot of people obviously. It's just that small group of us who like to work early.


So, when I go into work, I make my tea and I fill up my water bottle in the break room and I get the break room to myself. And it's just really nice. But obviously, I can't totally avoid people. So, I do run into people and engage in small talk. Because there's only so much avoiding, I can do in the break room. We only on one break room. And it's tiny, and we all have to share. But small talk definitely differs with the people I talk to. Some people, it's easier to talk to. Like my manager, my teammates, people I've worked with for a while. Obviously, extroverts are super easy to talk to. But it is harder with people you barely work with who are in your department, who are in your team, but they share the same office space as you. There's this one time, and I doubt he'll ever listen to this. But I had a co-worker who tried to start a conversation with me, because we were both in the break room at the same time making our breakfast. So, because I come in early, I also make my breakfast at the office. So, I can eat my breakfast there while I'm checking emails and stuff. Anyways, he tried to talk to me about oatmeal. And he asked me, what oatmeal brand I use, and what's my favorite flavor? And he told me his answers like, what brand he uses and what's his favorite flavor. And that was the whole conversation. And just like Wikipedia said, small talk, it's just unimportant things. And I was like, Wow. What a boring and unnecessary conversation. What was the point of that? Was he gonna go buy me oatmeal afterwards? I don't know.


But like I said in the intro, there are definitely benefits to small talk. And learning how to small talk is actually pretty important, especially in the workplace. And it's important to build relationships. And so, in my type of work, in IT consulting, or not even IT consulting, just work in general. And just getting yourself out there, networking. I know, I hate networking too. But networking is honestly, so important. It is the key. There are times where it's not what you know, but who you know. And I mentioned before in previous episodes that I have a degree in Family Studies. But I work in IT. So, I may not be as qualified as some people in my field. But I have done really well in this profession. Like I've done really well in this field. Even though I don't have the MIS degree or the Computer Science degree or anything like that. Because I've learned how to engage with people and build relationships with people and get my name out there. So, people remember me, and they know who I am. So that if anything happens or any positions open up, they'll think, "Oh, Meliza! She can do that. She'd be great at that." In my last job, we had a lot of networking events. Too many to be honest. And I remember just coming home, extremely exhausted from them. But it really helped me out because, networking really did help get my name out there. And I was able to get a lot of references and I got to meet a lot of people and then build relationships with people. I'm not saying that I'm not a hard worker or anything. Because I'm definitely a hard worker. I really pride myself in my work ethic. But I do feel like I did get more opportunities and more advantages just because I was more vocal. And I forced myself to talk to people and engage in small talk, so people would remember me. Because I definitely feel like I've gotten more advantages versus someone who truly is meant to be in this field and has a degree and all that. But because of my people skills, I was able to get ahead. I was able to go far in this profession.


And honestly, what really helped me to get to that point is working in Customer service. Because people who can small talk, they get good tips. And it's good for business and annual reviews. Because you get compliments in the compliment box. And it also helps build relationships with regulars. And through time, your small talks become more meaningful conversations. Like conversations go from, "How's the weather?" to "How's your vacation in Europe?" I've had regulars who were totally invested in my education, and they would ask me, like, "How college is doing?" And then I would hear really cool stories about what they did in college and their experiences. And then you just really build these great relationships. There's this one regular. I'll never forget him. And he is super nice and super generous. And he always tipped me pretty well.


But he noticed I was eating frozen yogurt. So, I worked at a yogurt shop. And I was eating frozen yogurt. And I think it was nine o'clock at night or something or eight o'clock. And he asked me, why was I eating the Fro Yo? Aren't I tired of it? And I explained to him why I work two jobs. So, this is technically my dinner. Because I don't have enough time between jobs to go get food. And then he went and got me a burger. So, I had dinner for that night. And it was really awesome. And there's this other regular. There's this lady with her support dog. And she goes to elderly places, what are they called, care homes, and she visits the elderly people with her dog. And she was awesome. She was always chipper. And she had amazing stories. And I loved hearing about it. And I honestly really miss some of my regulars. I wish I could have been able to say bye to like every single one of them. And they also always tipped me really well. So that was definitely a plus. Not only did I get to build a relationship with them and have more meaningful conversations down the road, but then they also tipped me really well. Like there's this one deaf couple who always went to the yogurt shop. And they would always make out in the corner. And I just didn't care. Like I just left them alone or whatever. But they always gave me a huge tip. And I loved it. And they taught me how to say 'Okay', 'Water', and 'Thank you' in sign language. You know, the key customer service ones. So that was pretty cool.


So yeah, small talk. Even though it's awful, no one likes doing it. They can lead to bigger, greater things. And I hopefully can kind of share, what I learned and what I do to help me small talk better. I don't know if that's grammatically correct, 'small talk better'. Haha. But hopefully some of these tips can help you. After this episode, if you thought any of that was helpful, and then you actually use it out in the real world, let me know. Follow me on social media and let me know if this helped you at all. Because I would love to know if this is actually really helpful.


So, how to small talk? So, this is more like small talk at work. Because that's really where I benefit small talk the most. And I feel like that's where introverts will probably benefit small talk the most. And so, one of the main things that I do is, I ask questions. So that there's not a lot of awkward silence. I tend to ask questions just because then the conversation will be about them. I make it about them. So that they have to do all the talking. And then I don't have to do much. But you have your typical "How's your weekend?", "What are you doing over the weekend?" Those are great questions. Like those are just your great typical questions. But I try to ask questions that also help me obtain a little detail about them. So, you have your typical weather small talk, which sounds the worst honestly. Because it's like, okay how many times you're going to ask me about the weather? So instead of talking about the weather, you can instead ask them about what they like about the weather? For example, right now it's summertime. Well in the Northern Hemisphere. I don't know if I have any listeners in the southern hemisphere. But right now, it's summertime for us here up north. Haha. Sorry, I just crack myself up sometimes. Back to my example. Okay, so it's summertime. So instead of saying, "Man! It's another hot one out there", ask like, "How are you liking this heat? Are you a summer person or a winter person?" Then you get that little tidbit about what they like. And you can use that for next time. You're basically just building up your conversations. So that they're leading to more meaningful conversations down the road. So, I try to remember little details about everyone that I encounter.


Do you guys watch 'The Office'? I love 'The Office. I absolutely love the office. So, Michael Scott keeps a Rolodex with notes in it. If you don't know what Rolodex is, it's like an old school address book, I guess. An old school phonebook. And it rotates. I don't know, you could Google it. I don't know how to explain it. But anyways, so he keeps notes about all of his clients on his Rolodex. So that when he goes and sees them again, he'll have conversation topics readily available to him. And that's what makes him a great salesman. Because he remembers little details about all of his clients. And it makes the client really love him for it. And they continue business. And that's totally true in real life. It's not just in the TV show. So that's why I make sure that I remember little details. So, the small talk at first kind of sucks, and it's really boring. But if you can grab these little details about someone, you can build it up. So now you know this person says he likes wintertime. The next conversation, you can talk about, "Oh my god, I can't wait for winter!" Or like "What do you like doing in the winter?" Or like, "What do you do in the summer to combat this heat?" So, you're just building off of it. And then eventually, you get to know the person more. And then you might actually end up really talking to this person. There's a lot of stuff you can talk about. Like, you can talk about their pets, their kids, or grandkids. Just any anything that interests you as well. If you like reading books, maybe you can figure out what books they like to read, or TV shows they like to watch or what type of movies. It can really be anything. Brandon told me that he tries to find something that he has in common with his customers. And so, you could totally do that in the workplace.


Hopefully, my co-workers aren't listening, but sometimes in a new job or a new place, I'll scout out their cubicle, and just learn little things about them. Just for me to get a little idea about who they are. I'm not stalking them and going inside their cubicle and just looking at every single thing, but just walk by and notice little things. People usually have a picture of their pet, or their kids or of their family. Or some people, they like to bring in little decor just to keep their cubicle homey. And some people put their favorite sports team up. And then that can be something you guys talk about. You find out they love the same team as you or even the opposing team. You guys could totally talk about that. Like for me, I noticed that my manager has a lot of stuff from Target. And we actually had a lot of the same stuff. So, I mentioned that in a conversation with her. And that lit up her face that there was something we had in common, and we were talking about it. And it ended up being a really fun conversation. So just find little titbits from people and then just build from it. And honestly, this works at a party too. Introverts tend to be very observant in nature. That's one of the characteristics that most introverts have. So, use that to your advantage. Scout out the room, find someone who may have the same fashion sense as you.


You could go up to them and say, "Hey, your outfit is really cute. Where did you get that?" And it can build from there. Or find someone who seems like an introvert too. And you can ask them like, "Hey, how do you know the host?" Like, "Do you know anyone at this party?" And then I can totally start a conversation about how they even got there? How did they even get invited? Why are they there? And you might end up meeting someone really awesome. And again, you're asking the questions about them. So, my first tip, I guess, is that you're starting the conversation with questions. So, you're trying to get to know them. You're asking about them. They're doing all the talking because it's about them. You're learning about them. And that's like building little details you can use to further the conversation. And then it helps you get to know the person too if you even want to keep the conversation going at a party. You know what I mean? And you might get really lucky and find someone really amazing and really fun. And someone who absolutely just loves talking to you. Because that has happened to me before too. I've met some really awesome people at work, that I probably wouldn't have had this relationship with them if I didn't start talking to them. And some of them are still my friends. And we're friends on social media, and we actually hang out outside of work. And I've really met some really great people that I am so grateful that we both had the courage to talk to each other. Because I did end up finding or befriending a lot of introverts too. So, small talk. Isn't something favorable on both sides. We still were able to create a relationship and a great relationship too.


So small talk. Yeah, it sucks. But it can be really beneficial both in work and in your personal life. Small talk is definitely the steppingstone to a real conversation. Granted that you actually want that conversation. But it can also help you figure out whether you want to be friends with someone or not too. You can really learn a co-worker that way. And figure out like, should I be friends with you? Or should I just stay away from you and just business only? So, those are my main tricks. I think it's not a whole lot of tips. But I think they really helped me out. Making the conversation about them, asking the question, so that you're not doing all the talking, getting the little details about people so that you can use that in future conversations and building up relationships. And then it works in customer service, and it works well in the office. It really works well anywhere. Any workplace and situation and also at parties. So please let me know if any of this was helpful if you use it out in the real world. And then if you're a pro at small talk, like somehow you just were able to master or you have other tips, let me know too. Because like I said, I'm still learning how to do it. I'm not perfect, and we're in quarantine right now. So, I'm definitely out of practice. I don't obviously see my co-workers anymore. So, our conversations are literally limited to when we have a meeting. And every once in a while, we'll chitchat during the meeting. But I haven't had a full conversation with anyone at work. And I've haven't had to use small talk since the quarantine to be honest. Because even in the grocery store, when you go out, no one is talking to each other. Everyone has a mask. So definitely still learning, still figuring it out. So, I'd love to hear your suggestions.


So that's what I do, and I did try to look up online. Some articles too that might be helpful. But honestly, a lot of them did just kind of say what I do. And I didn't find a whole lot of new stuff. I didn't really think it was helpful. But I did find this WikiHow. Like man! there's a WikiHow for anything. Everything, there's a WikiHow for everything. And I just wanted to share this because, I'm not gonna share what's in the WikiHow article because it's kind of what I already talked about, but I just thought it was kind of funny. Like how there's a WikiHow for everything. And literally everything. And I mean literally everything because I scrolled down to the comments. And I think someone jokingly asked like, "How can I be more attracted to girls?" And I kind of laughed and I showed it to Brandon. I was like, someone asked this, and someone literally answered with another WikiHow. And I thought they're just joking because the other WikiHow is 'How to be attracted to girls.' And I thought it was a joke link or something but it's an actual link. Someone actually wrote an article on how to be attracted to girls. And so, I can link that in the description too if you guys want to check it out. Because I thought it was pretty funny. I have to read you guys a couple of them. A couple of the methodologies of how to be attracted to girls. Because I thought it was just so ridiculous. So, one of them is 'Have a good personality' I'm sorry. What? You're just supposed to have a good personality somehow and instantly? Then some of the stuff are like super obvious. Like 'Maintaining your personal hygiene'. I mean, yeah, duh! And then one of the suggestions is, 'Talk to women more often', or 'Practice respect and kindness'. Do you really need a WikiHow to know that to be able to be attracted to women, you have to be able to respect and be kind to them? I don't understand that. And then one of the methods is, 'Determining who you are attracting. So, seek out someone who is in your own league.' Okay, whatever. Anyways, this whole article cracked me out. So, I'll put it in the description because I thought, I don't know, maybe because I'm a woman and as a woman reading this, I just thought it was just ridiculous. And the articles are written by a guy. A dating coach. I wonder, do those work? Because I know people actually do pay dating coaches. Obviously, they're getting paid because they're around and there's a lot of them. I'm just wondering does it work? Does it actually work? I don't know. Go check it out. Let me know what you think about it. Sorry, I know like I digress. I know it's like a totally different tangent from the small talk thing, but a funny find that I just came across, when I was doing research for this episode.


Alright guys. Well, I hope you liked this episode. If you do, please consider following me on social media. I am on Instagram @thetalkativeintrovertpodcast. I'm also on Facebook. I have these uploaded on YouTube. I also have my own website. It's called So please let me know how you feel about the episodes, how you felt about the podcast. And I do have one last ad. Man, I will get better at this. I was totally planning on sneaking that in the middle of the episode. Anyways, I'm sure you heard it in last episode if you listen to it, but I do want to promote Instacart. Instacart is awesome, especially during this time, during the quarantine. Because Instacart does the shopping for you and delivers the groceries to your doorstep. They connect you to a personal shopper that you can easily chat with online or on the mobile app. Please follow the link in the description to let them know I sent you and to help support this show. Listeners will receive free delivery on your first order over $35. Use Instacart and you'll never need to step into a grocery store again. Which honestly would probably be an introvert's dream anyways. So, go check it out. Alright, that's the end of the episode you guys. Thanks so much for listening and I will talk to you in the next episode.

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