As we emerge from the cloud of living in lockdown and blink our way back to the sunlight of living with fewer restrictions, we have to ask ourselves; what the heck are we going to talk to the other humans about?!
Engaging in small talk or chit-chat is something that we don't realise we have learned to do over time with practice. Now that we've been actively avoiding each other at the school gates and supermarkets in the collective effort to keep COVID at bay, there's a good chance we've forgotten how to do it!
If you are worried that things might get awkward the next time another adult says, "Hey, how are you?!", here are a few tips to remind you how to do your socialising post-pandemic.
Start Little And Often
If the idea of getting into a full-blown conversation with someone is a step too far for you, start small. Say hi to the postman, the cashier at the supermarket, the nice barista or the market stall vendor. Ask how they are or simply say "Nice day!" and see what happens. It'll get you back in the habit.
Small Talk In Small Doses
Chatting about the weather or the kids is fine as an ice breaker, but move on as soon as you have warmed up. Small talk is only boring if the conversation is all small talk. Who can keep talking about the state of the traffic for a full twenty minutes?!
The best way out of feeling awkward in conversation is to stop thinking about what you can say about yourself and ask questions of the person you are speaking to. Don't ask anything too invasive, but just enough to show that you are interested in them and what they have to say.
Sharing a small piece of information about yourself can make you seem warm and relatable. It doesn't need to be something very personal but if it's relative to the conversation, that can help it move along a lot smoother. For example, "Oh yes I used to work in telesales too and it was a nightmare!"
Adjust Your Body Language
Now that we are all wearing masks, it's really difficult to communicate if you are smiling or friendly via your body language. I find that a fun "Elbow Bump" always breaks the ice and although you may not see people's smiles, you can definitely hear them laugh which is great.
Everyone Is In The Same Boat
If you ask around, you'll find that most people feel like they have somewhat forgotten how to socialise in the past year. There is strength and solidarity in that and it could be a great first conversation point.
Good luck, you got this!