Study Reveals One Way To Make Small Talk More Interesting With Minimal Effort

How's the weather ... ?

We've all been trapped in those small talk conversations, pulling for any generic topic just to avoid an awkward silence — the weather, the latest sports news, celebrity gossip, the newest television show. But what if there was a way to make small talk a little less painful? 

A recent study conducted by Judith Holler at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands may hold the answer. The study, held at Radboud University Nijmegen, found that when the subjects (composed of seven groups of three friends) used hand and head gestures, along with words, it made for a more intriguing casual conversation because it prompted another person to respond faster.


"We asked [the subjects] to talk about anything they liked, as if they were meeting at home or in a bar," the researchers told HuffPost. "We didn't specifically ask them to use their hands or their body to communicate, because we wanted to capture communication that is as natural as possible, even though we were in a lab setting," they added.

While responses to questions with hand or head gestures is only faster by milliseconds, the researchers insist it makes a big difference when it pertains to casual communication.

Pair these findings with other research that found that asking questions makes for great small talk, and you'll soon be a small talk master. 

Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art Of Small Talk, told HuffPost earlier this year, "Follow-up questions are key because otherwise conversations are just question after question with no connection or in-depth real conversation."

We can't wait to try out these simple tips.

Cover image via Roman Samborskyi I Shutterstock


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