Are you an introvert who hates small talk? Although you might despise mindless chit chat, you may not know how to make conversation in a way that creates connection. You wonder how to go from handshake to heart-to-heart in a short amount of time.
After all, introverts love to dive deep. As I explain in my book The Irresistible Introvert, introverts want to have meaningful conversations about things we care about like our passions, dreams, and deepest thoughts.
We’re already really good at having an inner dialogue. Our conversations with ourselves can span hours. And yet, when we talk to other people our mind might go blank. That’s when dreaded awkward silences creep in.
Don’t worry, the introvert-friendly tips I’m sharing today will help you to be a great conversationalist—even if you hate small talk.
How to make conversation as an introvert
Know the 3 zones of connection
Sometimes the hardest part about getting a conversation going is knowing what topics to talk about.
The first step is to understand the three zones of conversation: outer expressions, relationships, inner core.
Outer expressions: interests, hobbies, TV shows, movies, music, work.
Relationships: friends, pets, coworkers, partner, family, dates.
Inner core: spiritual beliefs, values, motivations, desires, goals, fears.
Most introverts crave inner core conversations, but end up getting stuck in the small talk zone, which is the equivalent of floating in conversation outer space, like George Clooney in Gravity.
What we really want is to move past small talk dead ends and truly connect.
Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power explains: “Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”
Going back to the three zones, you can deepen conversations in any zone by asking the right questions. This brings me to my next point…
Use deepening questions
The secret to quickly making conversations more meaningful is to use the right deepening questions.
Here are some examples:
- What do you like about it?
- How did you get into it?
- What did you think about it?
- How do you feel about that?
Let’s say that someone has just talked to you about their favorite new hobby, making candles. You can ask, “what do you like about it?” and “How did you get into that?”
Share interesting things
As an introvert coach who has worked with hundreds of students and clients, there’s one thing I know for sure…
Introverts have a hard time sharing about ourselves. If you’re like a lot of my students, you probably feel weird talking about yourself and worry that you’re sharing too much or not enough.
Do they even find this interesting, you wonder as you list off things you did that week.
Knowing how to make conversation begins with knowing how to share interesting things about yourself and your life. This begs the question:
What is interesting about me?
Is it what I do? Where I’ve been? Who I’m with?
Sure, people are interested in all of the above. But often what they’re more keen to know is what you THINK and FEEL about the above things.
Here’s what that looks like in conversation:
“I went to a baseball game with the kids and it felt amazing cheering on our favorite team together. It warmed my heart seeing the kids so excited.”
“Skiing in the mountains felt so invigorating. I haven’t felt that free in a while!”
“I thought that the new season of Ted Lasso was less inspiring than the first one.” (This is a great opportunity for the other person to ask, “How so?”)
A shortcut to better conversations
If you really want to find out how to make conversation as an introvert there is so much more I can share with you.
That’s why I created my Introvert Conversation Cheat Sheet. In it I dive into smart questions and topics to really connect in conversation. Grab it for free here.
I so often find that people with whom one starts a convo with by asking them questions, as often recommended, end up blathering on about themselves without ever reciprocating! At ALL!