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Do’s and Don’ts of Small Talk

by | Jul 3, 2013

By Sarah Epstein


You will face situations in which you must mingle with others in a professional setting whether at an event, a conference, or a holiday party. These settings can be daunting for even the most skilled small talkers. Today, we ask Karen for her advice/best practices on how to work a room and make meaningful small talk at an event.


Q:  Karen, what is a good way to open a conversation with somebody else at an event?

A:  Find some way to compliment the person.


Q:  Would you say that there are topics that you should avoid?

A:  Yes. Know the culture of the company or group you’re networking with. You don’t want to discuss anything taboo.


Q:  Many people say that they are too shy or socially awkward to make small talk. What advice do you have for them?

A:  Introverts are at a disadvantage here. Try attending these events with a friend. Separate for a while to mingle, but plan a time to regroup with your ally for moral support. Also, be the question asker. The other person usually loves talking about their favorite subject – themselves.


Q: Are there any faux pas that you’ve seen that you think could be easily avoided?

A:  Making assumptions will cause you to have Titanic Moments. For example, NEVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless her water has broken! Never assume that a couple is actually a couple! Never assume that someone is someone else’s mother when that person could be the other person’s spouse. Never assume anything! Just ask questions and let the other guy do the talking.


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