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What's your default small-talk line?

(78 Posts)
franch Wed 03-Jun-09 11:13:19

I'm rubbish at small-talk. The people I know who are best at it all seem to have a standard line that works in every situation. DH's is a variation on 'So what have you been doing today?', which seems to serve him well. What's yours?

littlelamb Wed 03-Jun-09 11:15:21

Generally asking someone where they got a piece of jewellery or bag or clothing- also works because I am nosey as well grin. I only say it to women though so I obviously need to work on my line.

HecatesTwopenceworth Wed 03-Jun-09 11:16:08

I don't have one. I am SHIT at small talk. - even on here I find the general chat like the tearoom etc, far too difficult. Am ok on an 'issue', or answering a question - like this - but just chatting about nothing (which is what small talk is - opening your mouth and letting the wind waggle your tongue!) is totally beyond me. blush

rubyslippers Wed 03-Jun-09 11:17:49

I love your bag/shoes/earrings ... where did you get it

Did you watch x,y, z last night

i am reading "insert name of book" - have you read it?

franch Wed 03-Jun-09 11:18:20

Well I'm the same, Hecate, which is why I asked the question! My brain just freezes.

HecatesTwopenceworth Wed 03-Jun-09 11:22:54

Mine too. grin I recognise that ruby and little lamb's suggestions of "Oh, I love your X, where did you get it.." are good, but what the hell do you say after that? You can only ask so many questions before this 'small talk' becomes an interview!! grin Plus, erm, I wouldn't actually give a crap where they got whatever and I am sure that would show. blush

Monkeyandbooba Wed 03-Jun-09 11:24:55

I usually discuss the setting or how do you know the host/ess. Plus discussions of weather, items of clothing said person is wearing, who they came with, food, drink etc etc.

the aim is to find common ground, if none can be found a 'will you excuse me a moment I need to phone the babysitter/go to the ladies/ get another drink' works.

I can talk for England grin

thisisyesterday Wed 03-Jun-09 11:26:33

<watches thread closely>
am also crap at small-talk

HensMum Wed 03-Jun-09 11:29:51

This time of year, there's always holidays to talk about. Bit obvious, but it's a good one for finding common ground...or not!

Molesworth Wed 03-Jun-09 11:31:54

I'm also crap at small talk (although getting better with age), but my DP is the world's greatest schmoozer small talker. His opening line is often "Hello, where're you from?", which sounds crap, but somehow this rubbish line manages to inspire instant friendship in practically everyone he meets. I just watch in awe and puzzlement grin

HecatesTwopenceworth Wed 03-Jun-09 11:32:36

Oh no! Not "Where are you going on holiday?" grin They'll think I'm about to cut their hair!!

Actually, hairdressers tend to be VERY good at small talk - I wonder if it's part of the training? grin

HecatesTwopenceworth Wed 03-Jun-09 11:33:32

Moles - my husband is also a people magnet! Baffling! He really connects with people wherever he goes. I don't know how he does it!

harleyd Wed 03-Jun-09 11:35:48

bout ye! whats the craic, you havin a good day

followed by whatever else springs to mind

HensMum Wed 03-Jun-09 12:04:14

Well, there's a reason why hairdressers ask it - it's a good opening line! grin People love talking about holidays.

franch Wed 03-Jun-09 12:24:51

"springing to mind" being the problem harleyd ...

daisybaby Wed 03-Jun-09 12:38:09

Crap here at small talk too. But, I really hate it when people say to my "so, what have you been up to lately?" - cannot think of a damned thing to say in reply!

dogrilla Wed 03-Jun-09 12:48:42

I think it's something that has deteriorated over the years with me. The worst is weddings - it's a festival of small talk if you don't really know anyone. My DH goes off and talks to everyone in the room while I tend to get stuck to people and have have no idea how to move on, asking them moronic questions until they run away and hide. Drinking makes me better at chit-chat (at least in my head) but currently pregnant so don't have booze to fall back on. ahhh!

Astrophe Wed 03-Jun-09 13:00:04

My DH is far better than I am at small talk too - but I am learning from him.

Once he has an opening ("so, how do you know..." or "are you a local?" etc), he is a really good listener, and has a real attitude of wanting to find out about the person. He listens well, and then he knows what to ask to keep them talking.

IME, people actually love to talk about themselves and will do it at length if you encouraeg them with questions. Occassionally someone is a bit dull, but generally I find that people are actually quite interesting.

The worst is when you get 'chatting' to someone who just shuts down all conversation attampts with yes/no answers...argh, so tedious.

JamesAndTheGiantBanana Wed 03-Jun-09 13:10:05

I can't believe no-one's mentioned the weather yet! The great British fall back chat option. I've had more conversations this week because of the weather than I've had with any of my neighbours since we moved in.

franch Wed 03-Jun-09 13:11:15

Ditto, daisybaby. Me: "Oh, nothing really." <Silence descends.>

Monkeyandbooba Wed 03-Jun-09 13:37:25

Yes definitely pander to people's egos, everyone lieks talking about themselves.

Typical Monkey conversation goes like this:

<summer garden party, all that can be heard is the gently hum of intelligent chitchat and the humming of bumble bees feeding on the sweet nectar of the humble English rose>

MAB: what a lovely day isn't this garden beautiful?
Stranger: yes it is I do love those roses
MAB: they are wonderful, do you enjoy gardening?
Stranger: not really but I do design lawnmower wheels for a living
MAB: <gives a tinkle of a laugh> oh really how fascinating, how did you get into that?
Stranger: Well my father did it and his father before him, in fact a distant ancestor designed secateurs for Capability Brown
MAB: I visited a garden designed by CB at Chatsworth House a few years ago, was very pretty - another vol-u-vent?
Stranger: no thank you I am on a diet
MAB: oh yes? Are you following a particular regime?
Stranger: the orange diet, can only eat orange things
MAB: that must be hard work, I admire your dedication - you are looking good on it by the way
Stranger: thank you I have lost 12stone since Xmas
MAB: that's great, well please excuse me I must find out where my feral children have gone


Hassled Wed 03-Jun-09 13:40:47

Yes, I comment on clothes/handbags/shoes/children if we're stood awkwardly next to each other in the playground etc. I have been known to comment on the weather blush.

franch Wed 03-Jun-09 13:55:23

lol MAB you should turn that into a 3-act play

PortAndLemon Wed 03-Jun-09 14:00:23

My mother has a three-question standard conversation for talking to academics that she swears will get you through an entire formal dinner and then get you follow-up comments on what an intelligent and erudite conversational partner you are.

1. So what are you working on at the moment?
2. Just how significant is that?
3. Are there many other people working in that area? [actually, I may have slightly misremembered this one]

Plus appropriate levels of "mm-hmm", "I see", "yes", of course.

Not sure it translates to all other social situations, though.

junkcollector Wed 03-Jun-09 14:05:26

grin MAB that was like the stage version of a haiku.

'^<summer garden party, all that can be heard is the gently hum of intelligent chitchat and the humming of bumble bees feeding on the sweet nectar of the humble English rose>^' Can I come to the next one?

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