Clever small talk hacks that will help you out of any awkward situation

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Whether you are trying to make conversation with your bosses’ awkward husband or that beautiful girl at the party that leaves you feeling speechless, we all struggle with small talk at times. Perhaps you are worried that you will be rejected, or maybe you’re feeling anxious that you will annoy the other person. Maybe they are just not that good at making conversation, and it feels like it is all down to you to carry the conversation. Here are some social hacks to help you manage any awkward situation.

How to say ‘no’ without causing offence

It is so important to be able to say ‘no’ to people; otherwise, you will end up spending your life living for other people and spending all your time doing work/attending events/doing favors that you didn’t want to do. The best way to turn down something without causing offense is by giving a reason. For example “I’d love to, but I’m actually really booked up at the moment.” Soften the blow further by saying such as “I’d love to get involved in a few months, so please consider me for anything else,” or by offering alternative suggestions.

How to start a conversation without seeming pushy

Approaching someone at a social event and starting a conversation is one of the most nerve-wracking things you can do. Try to be confident, but not cocky, and approach with an easy opener such as “Hi, I’m Sarah”, and when the other person introduces themselves to you, this is the perfect time to ask an open questions such as “How are you finding the conference?” or “Did you travel far today?”. Let the conversation flow naturally but if it feels a bit stilted or awkward, take it as a sign that it is time to move on.

Leaving a conversation without it being awkward

When the conversation is going well but it’s time to leave, this can feel almost as daunting as starting it up in the first place. Trying to end a conversation without seeming rude or as if you are bored is scary, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Give a warm but certain explanation for why you are leaving, for example, “Hey James, I have to run now I’m afraid as I have a train to catch, but it’s been great chatting and good luck with the house hunting!”. This makes it a little more personal and will leave the person likely thinking about how nice you were, rather than feeling slighted that you have left.

How to deal with forgetting someone’s name

It is common to forget someone’s name, but it is also mortifying. The best way to deal with this is to be entirely honest and upfront about it, apologize and don’t make it a huge deal. For example, “I’m so sorry, I’ve got the worst memory for names, and yours has slipped my mind for a moment!”. They will likely relate and hopefully find your honesty refreshing.

The likelihood is that the person you are talking too feels just as awkward and under pressure, as you do, so you’re not alone! Just take a deep breathe and try these tips for tip-top conversations.

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