How to Become a Small Talk Ninja: the Ultimate Checklist for introverts

Small talk

If you are an introvert, just thinking about a small talk situation might send shivers down your spine. 

The mere thought of attending to a party scares you and stresses you out. You would rather shoot yourself in the foot than attend to an event where you would have to engage in small talk of any kind. Wouldn’t you do anything to skip this? I know I would. (If you’re not an introvert but have an introvert friend, you might want to learn a little bit about how we introverts think and why it’s sometimes so difficult to get us to hang out. We just don’t want to socialize that much. It exhausts us.

What is an introvert really?

As an introvert and especially an INFJ, chances are that you want to avoid social events because you feel awkward in crowds of people. But don’t worry, you have a lot of natural introvert skills that you might not even think of.  In this article we are going to examine exactly what those skills are, and I will also provide you with a checklist of what you can do to become a supersocial small talk ninja! 

So what are the traits of an introvert person and especially an INFJ? Let’s get to the list of the most important set of skills that most introverts already feel comfortable with. You can start out by using the skills you already have.

Listening skills

The thing about introverts is that we often don’t like to talk so much. What are we supposed to say? (No one is going to want to listen to how we started our star wars figurine collection or answer our questions about with which color we want for our next Leuctturm 1917!)

But on the other hand we tend to be great listeners. If you are an INFJ especially, you always gather information about the world around you. You know that the best way to learn about someone is to listen to what that person has to say. Sadly, you might think, it’s not always the other way around, and the other person might not always seem to be as interested in what you have to offer them. But is that really such a bad thing after all? 

Interesting conversation topics 

You know, all those hours that you have spent learning about new things? Now is the time those things come in handy. Okay, I know that this totally contradicts what I said in the previous paragraph, but hear me out:

You have a ton of valuable information that you can share in a conversation, you just don’t know how to deliver that information yet since you become nervous when you have to talk to other people. But believe me, there is nothing wrong with the content of what you have to say!

Creative thinkers

Creative thinking comes naturally to you if you are an introvert and especially an INFJ. As a matter of fact, several great inventors and innovators in the history of the world have been introverts. If this applies to you, this is a skill that you can use at an event. 

Chances are that you don’t find so much joy in collecting likes from your surrounding. You derive pleasure from your own company, and many introverts have cultivated special talents in topics like art, music, writing and so forth.

See the event as a chance to share these topics. 

You have the ability to let people dream

Do you daydream a lot? Introverts love to play around in their own minds, and they don’t have a problem with creating inner worlds. For some people it can be scary to visualize something for themselves. Here is where you as an introvert come in. With the right questions you can help people to have the courage to daydream a little. I have found that this is actually a great small talk conversation topic. Many people want to share their inner dreams and hopes, but don’t dare to do it because they’re afraid that it might sound stupid. Use your daydreaming skills and guide them into talking about what their dreams and hopes are, and you will find a friend for life. 

So what questions do you want to ask? Instead of the boring “what do you do for a living?” you could ask something else like “what did you want to become when you were eleven years old?” That opens up to a whole other conversation, and you can deepen the conversation in a way you like it. 

So let’s head over to the Ultimate Checklist!

how to become a small talk ninja the ultimate  hecklist

This checklist is a list that I’ve compiled to help you manage your behaviour during social events. Follow the steps below and you will be ready to go to any event in the future.

1. Prepare your elevator pitch

A good way to do this, is to answer the following questions for yourself:

  1. Who are you? 
  2. What do you do? (What you actually do)
  3. Who do you do it for? (Your clients)
  4. What are those person’s hopes and dreams? 
  5. How are those hopes and dreams actualized by your work? 

The trick is, that you ANSWER ONLY THE LAST QUESTION when people ask you what you do for a living. This way, you get a super elevator pitch that leads to curiosity and you immediately become a more interesting person in their eyes.

Example:

Let’s say you’re a childrens book author. The person next to you asks: “What do you do for a living?” You answer something like “I give children awesome dreams.” If that doesn’t lead to a further conversation, I don’t know what does. 

2. Stock up with business cards

If you are self employed, your business card is a great chance for you to express your personality. Use it as a small platform of yours to reveal what you like in terms of color, style and your working title.

3. Eye contact

Are you a shy person facing difficulties to look another person in the eyes while talking to them? Then these tips are for you:

  • Look between peoples eyebrows when you talk to them. This way you can keep your eyes on the person without being nervous. This is especially good if you’re at a business event and talk to a business person. 
  • Try to determine the other person’s eye color while you talk to them. This way you will look them steadily in the eye without feeling weird about it.
4. Practice your body language

Study the most common body language that people use when they talk to each other. You probably already know some, since this is a common special interest among INFJs. Especially study how you yourself are doing, and practice it before you attend to the event. This can help you a lot.

  • Mirroring: One of my favourite techniques is “mirroring”, which simply means that you mirror the other person’s gestures and mimics a little, for example sit with your legs crossed if they do and so forth. The trick is to try to get them to eventually mirror you after a while. That way you can lead the conversation where you want.
  • Mind the pace: Try to speak in the same pace as the person you have the small talk conversation with. It’s quite difficult at first, but it gets better with practice. We tend to like people that are like us, so this technique helps you to connect to the other person. After you have created the connection, you can slow down the pace and witness how the other person starts to mimic your pace instead.
5. Keep track of your hands

This is an additional tip to the previous one, but where you keep your hands reveals a lot about who you are as a person. Study what to do with your hands. If you tend to cover your hands with your long shirt sleeves, stop doing that. It is a sign of nervousness. 

6. Study the other person’s eye movements during your small talk

This model is a tip that can benefit everyone, not only introverts. If you learn this, you are way ahead of most of the people you will meet. If you are an INFJ you might intuitively already “know what people think” before they open their mouth.

Chances are that the reason why you can do so might be that you intuitivly read people this way already. You have extraordinary skills already, and with this overview of The Eye Accessing Cue (EAC) it almost feels like you’re cheating. Ok, here’s how the EAC model works:

When we think and speak we tend to move our eyes a certain way depending on if we are either visual, auditive or kinesthetic. If you study a person’s eye movements, they will reveal a lot about their personality this way.

The EAC model:
descriptipn of EAC eye movement
  • If someone looks up to their right while talking to you, they are mostly visual, making a visual construction.
  • If they look up to their left, they remember something in a visual manner.
  • If they look to their right side, they are making an auditory construction.
    (People often confuse auditory people for not paying attention, which as a matter of fact is the exact opposite, since that is exactly what they are doing!)
  • If someone looks to their left side, they have an auditory memory.
  • If they look down to their right, they are kinesthetic and in touch with their sensations and feelings.
  • If they look down to their left, they have a neutral, internal dialogue.

So how can you use this in your small talk?

Let’s say your small talk conversation partner wants to tell you about what they do for a living. They look down to their right. Chances are that they are kinesthetic or have a strongly connection with feelings concerning their work or career. You can then (using your extraordinary listening skills) ask them how they FEEL about that.

Let’s say that they talk about their spouse and look to their right side. That might reveal something about them that you can use in the further conversation. Say things lik “I’m LISTENING, please tell me more”. Use “auditory” words when you talk with an auditory person and so on.

This is a helpful source if you want to learn more about introverts.)

See you soon!

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