- Stick to Acceptable Topics: Pop culture, sports, weather, and current shared experiences tend to be safest. Debra Fine author of The Fine Art of Small Talk adds another basic rule: “Don’t ask a question that could embarrass someone: ‘Is your boyfriend here?’ ‘Did you get into that M.B.A. program?’”
- Engage, don’t entertain: People think you’re a brilliant conversationalist when you ask about them rather than go on about yourself. (Researchers from the psychology department at Harvard found that talking about yourself triggers the same pleasure sensation in the brain as food. People would forgo money in order to talk about themselves.)
- Think of each conversation as a pie: Don’t take more than your piece. In a two-person conversation, that means half, in a four-person, just one quarter.
Finally, we’d like to add a guideline that Justin Jones- Fosu recommends. Before you start talking about yourself, ask your conversation partner three follow up questions. Chances are they’ll think you’re the smartest person in the room!
From The Glasers, Communication Capsule