I hate small talk. It isn’t just that I run out of topics—I don’t have them to start with, thanks to a blend of social anxiety and garden-variety introversion. But somewhere in my twenties, I realized that learning how to make better small talk was an essential life skill that I needed to learn, fast.
Why? For starters, there’s no magical formula for escaping awkward situations that lead to small talk. You will always find yourself at a work event seated next to someone you barely know, or at a party that’s comprised largely of strangers. No one likes someone who sits silently staring into space, and if you’re supposed to be networking, then it can do you some serious damage. “Quiet” translates too quickly to “standoffish”, to both workmates and potential in-laws!
And I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of situations when staring at your phone isn’t just considered rude, it might be physically impossible. (Back to those work events!)