People who are good at small-talk never use these 12 phrases

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Navigating small talk can be a minefield.

It’s striking the right balance – engaging without being overbearing and exciting without being invasive.

Those who master the art of small talk know there are specific phrases to avoid, like the plague.

In this article, I will share these 12 phrases that people who are good at small talk never use. Let’s dive in, shall we?

1) “So, what do you do?”

Small talk is an art where a key aspect is making the other person feel comfortable and at ease.

Right off the bat, asking someone what they do for a living can be intrusive. 

It’s a question that pushes them to define themselves by their job. Plus, it is unlikely to start an engaging conversation.

The best communication is knowing how to steer the conversation towards more exciting and less conventional topics. 

They might ask about hobbies, recent vacations, or what the person would instead do.

The goal of small talk is not to gather as much information as possible but to make a connection with someone. 

Therefore, you should avoid falling back on this tired old question. 

Instead, focus on open-ended questions, allowing more unique and personal answers.

2) “You wouldn’t understand.”

The key to good small talk is inclusion, not exclusion.

Using phrases like “you wouldn’t understand” immediately creates a barrier between you and the other person.

It implies that there’s something about you that they can’t relate to, which can make them feel dismissed or belittled.

Let me share a personal experience. Once, at a social gathering, I casually mentioned my interest in astronomy. 

A fellow guest quickly responded, “Oh, you wouldn’t understand my job then; it’s all about finance and numbers.” 

This immediately shut down the conversation for me. 

They meant that I couldn’t grasp their field of work because of my interests.

Instead of assuming someone won’t understand, good conversationalists find ways to explain complex topics easily. 

They use common ground, not walls, to build bridges. 

If you’re tempted to use this phrase, consider rephrasing it to keep the conversation open and inclusive.

3) “I hate…”

When it comes to small talk, negativity can be a conversation killer.

Phrases like “I hate…” instantly introduce a negative tone into the conversation. 

It can often backfire even if you intend to find common ground through shared dislikes.

You should, instead, focus on the things you enjoy or appreciate. 

It’s a simple shift that can make your conversations more positive and engaging

4) “Actually, it’s like this…”

Small talk is not a competition. It’s about building connections and fostering a sense of camaraderie.

However, phrases like “Actually, it’s like this…” seem like you’re trying to prove that you’re right and the other person is wrong. 

This can create an atmosphere of confrontation rather than conversation.

On the other hand, correcting someone in a way that could be seen as condescending, try using more inclusive language

For instance, “That’s an interesting perspective! Have you ever looked at it this way…?”

Small talk aims to create a bond, not to showcase your knowledge or prove your point. Hence, strive for understanding, not victory.

5) “No offense, but…”

We’ve all heard it before, and usually, what follows could be more pleasant.

The saying “No offense, but…” is often a precursor to a potentially offensive statement.

It can make the person you’re talking to instantly defensive or uncomfortable. 

It’s a clear signal that something potentially hurtful is coming.

And if you have a critique or differing opinion, find a respectful and considerate way to express it without prefacing it with “No offense, but…”.

The goal of small talk should be to create positive interactions and build relationships, not to tread on thin ice with potentially offensive comments.

6) “I don’t care.”

Nothing shuts down a conversation faster than indifference.

When you say, “I don’t care,” it conveys that you’re not interested in what the other person says. 

This can make them feel unimportant and dismissed.

We all have moments when we could be more interested in a topic. 

When you have small talk, you discuss the issues and build a connection with the person you’re talking to. 

Instead of expressing indifference, try to find a part of their story or topic you can join with or ask more about. 

These moments of curiosity and engagement can turn small talk into meaningful conversation. 

Although you aren’t interested in the topic, show enthusiasm for the person you’re engaging with. 

People will remember how you made them feel more than what you said.

7) “I don’t have time for this.”

We all live busy lives, juggling multiple responsibilities and commitments. 

However, expressing yourself as too busy for a conversation can be dismissive and disrespectful.

During a hectic work week, I recall someone trying to talk with me about their weekend plans. I unintentionally responded, “I don’t have time for this right now.”

Even though I was expressing my stress, I saw the immediate disappointment on their face. 

Until now, the words I said on that day still stick with me as a reminder of the impact our terms can have.

Try expressing your situation empathetically instead of interrupting a conversation because you’re busy.

A phrase like, “I’d love to hear more about this, but I’m swamped at the moment. Can we chat about it later?” shows that you value the conversation and the person, even if you can’t engage immediately.

8) “That’s stupid.”

Respect is critical to any conversation; expressions like “That’s stupid” can quickly erode it.

Whether you’re referring to someone’s idea, opinion, or experience, using such dismissive language can make the other person feel demeaned and disrespected.

It’s a surefire way to shut down any open lines of communication.

Let’s express your dissent constructively and respectfully even though you disagree with something. 

You can say, “I see where you’re coming from, but I have a different perspective,” and maintain respect while allowing for diverse viewpoints.

The key to good small talk is making the other person feel valued and heard. 

Therefore, keep your language respectful and considerate, even when disagreements arise.

9) “Let me tell you about me…”

What are the golden rules of small talk? 

It starts when you dive into a monologue about yourself without any invitation or context, which can be self-centered and uninterested in the other person. 

It’s crucial to remember that conversation should be a two-way street.

It would be best to balance sharing about yourself and showing interest in the other person. 

A good conversation involves both talking and listening. 

We are advancing the conversation with a monologue about mutual things, asking about the other person, or finding a topic of interest.

This give-and-take makes for engaging small talk and builds stronger connections with others. 

10) ”I am tired.”

In small talk, saying “I’m tired” might signal a lack of interest in continuing the conversation or a desire to end it.

It can also indicate that someone feels physically or mentally drained and might not fully engage in the discussion.  

You must avoid using this phrase because it can shut down a conversation or give off an impression of disinterest. 

In other words, small talk aims to keep the conversation engaging and friendly.

11) “I don’t want to talk.”

It’s a straightforward way of expressing that you are a lack of desire to engage in conversation. 

When you say this, you’re not interested in discussing a particular topic or aren’t in the mood for conversation altogether.

In the context of small talk, ‘I don’t want to talk’ makes the conversation end. 

Instead, let’s start the conversation with kindness, openness, and a positive attitude to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for everyone involved.

This approach desires to foster a pleasant and engaging interaction from the start.

12) “I am bored.”

When you say to someone, “I’m bored,” because you find the discussion or activity tedious or not entertaining enough to hold your attention. 

However, in small talk, this expresses that you prefer to avoid the conversation, which can lead to dreadful communication.  

The art of conversation 

The ability to engage in smooth, small talk is genuinely an art form, a dance of words and emotions that forms the foundation for deeper connections.

It’s different from what we say but also how we say it. The tone of our voice, the timing of our responses, even the words we choose – all these elements can drastically affect the quality of our conversations.

Steering clear of these 12 phrases is a small step towards mastering this art.

But remember that, beyond these words and phrases, the intent and empathy behind our interactions matter most.

Kindness and understanding can go a long way in turning mundane small talk into meaningful exchanges.

Next time you find yourself in a conversation, choose your words wisely, listen actively, and, most importantly, engage with genuine interest and respect.

After all, the most sincere form of respect is listening to what another says. 

Let that be the guiding principle for your conversations, and be a master of communication. 

People will not remember what you say, but remember how you make them feel. 

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

People who never have trouble sleeping usually do these 8 things every evening

If someone uses these 8 phrases, they’re playing the victim card with you