Stress-Free Small Talk

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If making small talk makes someone anxious, it may just be because they have a fear of such interactions, and my guest today, Rich Gallagher, can help them overcome it through his practice as a therapist. Or, someone’s anxiety around small talk can be based in part on simply not knowing how to do it, and in that case, Rich helps them by teaching them the mechanics of conversation, which he shares in his book Stress-Free Small Talk, as well as on today’s show.

Rich and I begin our conversation with how small talk is important as an on-ramp to bigger things, how it’s a skill that can be developed like any other, and how learning its mechanics can dampen the anxiety you feel about taking part in it. We then turn to these mechanics of making comfortable and effective small talk, including doing prep work, embracing tried-and-true openers, and avoiding talking too much yourself. We also discuss how to join conversations that are already underway, manage committing a faux pas, acknowledge others to build connection, and end a conversation gracefully. We end our conversation with small talk strategies for first dates and job interviews, and what to do when you go to a party where you only know the host.

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