Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Does small talk always have to be boring?

Today we talk with Chris Colin about how you can generate interesting small talk!


Many of us are afraid of small talk.

We fear it will be dull or pointless, or just another conversation that we’ll have to muddle through.

But Chris says it doesn’t have to be that way.

He believes we should view small talk is an opportunity for something interesting to happen.



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Here are Chris’s top three tips for making small talk interesting:

  • Don’t “mirror” the person you’re talking to. Answering and then repeating the exact same question is a mistake. Instead, try responding with another question, like “How did you get here?” or “”What do you think of this place?”
  • Ask for stories, not answers. Don’t ask “Where are you from?”   Instead, ask “How did you get to be where you’re from?” This enables an opportunity to share more than just a place name.
  • Be curious! Be quiet and listen actively to the other. A great question you can ask to show your interest is “And then what?”


Next, find out why your English language exchange isn’t working.


Chris ColinChris Colin is the author most recently of What to Talk About, as well as What Really Happened to the Class of ’93 and Blindsight, named one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2011.

He’s also written about chimp filmmakers, ethnic cleansing, George Bush’s pool boy, blind visual artists, solitary confinement, the Yelpification of the universe and more for the, the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Mother Jones, McSweeney’s and Afar, where he’s a contributing writer.

He lives in San Francisco.

Do you have trouble with small talk?

Have you used any of Chris’s tactics?

Tell us how it went in the comments section below!

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