8 signs you’re much better at casual conversation than you think

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Small talk. Ugh, right?

Seriously, how many times do you have to talk about the weather just to avoid an awkward silence? It’s like some subtle form of torture.

Well, guess what – casual conversation doesn’t have to be all that boring. In fact, you may be much better at small talk than you give yourself credit for.

Sometimes, chatting about how late the bus is can actually be the beginning of a blossoming friendship. It all depends on how the conversation develops.

These are the 8 signs you’re much better at casual conversation than you think.

1) You ask questions and actively listen

Duh.

It sounds so obvious, yet there are far too many people who get it wrong.

They talk about themselves or a topic the other person clearly doesn’t care about for so long that the whole interaction becomes absolutely draining.

It’s not… great, to say the least.

If you ask people interesting questions and actually listen to what they have to say – in other words, if you display a genuine interest in who they are – you’re already much better at small talk than you think.

Phew! That was easy, wasn’t it?

2) You know how to cut awkward silences at the root

Growing up, I had an irrational fear of awkward silence. Every time I went out with someone, I prepared five topics beforehand to make sure we always had something to talk about.

Looking back, this was a bit of a dramatic thing to do (I suffered from a lot of social anxiety), but you could definitely say it was a start as far as small talk skills go.

Preparing what you’ll talk about before every interaction may be an overkill, I’m not going to lie. But if you’re good at casual conversation, you’ll know how to prevent an awkward silence by diverting the topic of the discussion right there and then.

For example, you might point out something in your immediate surroundings that you can talk about. You can also ask the other person a question that broaches a new topic entirely or dig deeper into the subject you’re already talking about.

Think of the last five times you chatted with someone. If you have great small talk skills, awkward silence is a rare thing for you.

This is not only because you know how to keep the conversation going but also because you’re not afraid of it in the first place, which means the silence automatically becomes comforting rather than awkward.

3) You can turn your immediate surroundings into fun conversation topics

“I like this cocktail.”

“Me too.”

“Hmm.”

Silence.

Not great. Instead of saying “hmm” and running out of ideas, great casual conversationalists know how to connect things that are right in front of them with fun topics or stories.

This is a great skill if I dare say so myself because casual topics can get boring very quickly if you go on about them for too long or just say random stuff to escape an awkward silence.

So, if you’re good at small talk, you’ll know how to turn “I like this cocktail” into a fun story about a night out or an interesting discussion about alcohol and pub culture.

4) You’re not constantly worried about how others perceive you

As someone who used to suffer from social anxiety, I find that feeling too self-conscious is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to casual chitchat.

When you’re constantly worried about how you appear to others, you’ll focus more on *looking* like you’re listening instead of actually listening.

As you’re nodding along, you might be thinking, “Am I holding eye contact for too long? Do I look engaged in the conversation? Hold on, what are they actually saying?”

Good conversationalists don’t think about all that. They are focused on how they experience the world from a subjective point of view, not how the world experiences them.

Talking to people doesn’t scare them because they’re comfortable in their own skin.

5) You understand non-verbal signs

This is a big one. All conversations end at some point or another, and knowing how to handle this is vital.

Can you notice if the person you’re talking to is angling away and moving farther from you?

Can you tell if their eyes are glossed over because you’ve been rambling on for ten whole minutes?

Is it easy for you to read their body language to understand which topics excite them and which are a bit of a letdown?

And finally, do you know how to react to these realizations in a polite and assertive way?

If your answer’s yes, you’re much better at casual chitchat than you think.

6) You know what’s appropriate

There is a time and place for deep talk.

A fun work party or a casual conversation over coffee isn’t it.

People who understand the inherent laws of surface-level interaction don’t blurt out inappropriate things, don’t trauma dump, and don’t broach deeply personal or intimate topics unless the other person seems to be on the same wavelength.

I’m not saying you should never take a casual conversation to another level – deep things are exactly what many of us bond over, after all – but you’ve got to be able to feel the room.

Is sitting on public transport with a person you’ve known for three days truly the best time for you to open up about your childhood traumas?

Sometimes, it’s simply better to talk about your upcoming holiday or how much you dislike the cold. It all depends on the circumstances.

7) You don’t seek conflict

Casual conversation is exactly what it says on the label – casual. And casual things are conflict-free because they’re not deep enough to stir strong emotions inside you.

If you want to know how good you are at small talk, think of how often you bring up controversial topics with people who aren’t as close to you.

Your answer should be almost never because small talk is actually the complete opposite of political or philosophical fights. Small talk should be easy. It should be fun and light.

Ideally, you should be able to smooth the creases in the conversation to prevent any conflict from destroying the equilibrium.

Well, unless you actually do want to have a deep discussion or a fight. But the moment an easy interaction turns into a passionate disagreement, the casualness is gone.

8) You bond over laughter rather than negativity

On a final note, too many people bond over negativity. And while complaining about the same thing is definitely something that brings you closer to someone – there is a reason they say that a common enemy unites even the oldest of foes – it doesn’t build a good basis for your relationship.

When you walk away from a casual conversation, you should feel light and unbothered.

Negativity does the complete opposite. It brings both of your spirits down as you bond over shared misery.

Make someone laugh. Talk about things that bring a smile to your face. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Thus the art of casualness.

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

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