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“Even the most introverted people can master the art of small talk,” said Susanne Jones, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Minnesota. “It’s a challenge, but people should not underestimate the power of small talk, especially around the holidays.”
Short of hiring a networking, speech or life coach, there are plenty of things you can deploy to improve your small-talk skills. Be yourself, be genuine, focus on others and not you, and don’t put so much pressure on yourself, experts say.
Some say it’s even worth practicing small talk. And since most of us have our heads buried in our iPhones during prime small-talk opportunities — on the bus, in line at the store, on the elevator — the holiday social season is a great time to brush up.
Some people are just naturally good at small talk or have jobs that require them to talk about the mundane.
As an ICU nurse and perpetual partygoer, Nicole Marshall is a self-proclaimed “professional small-talker.”
“I could probably sweet-talk the president of the United States,” said Marshall, 37, Minneapolis.
“Small talk is like speed dating. You get to find out a quick little snippet about people in a short amount of time,” she said. “Small talk opens the door for relationships … and often leads to something great, like a new friend.”
Aimee Blanchette • 612-673-1715