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Small talk is just casual chitchat about nothing in particular. Ask questions about what he or she likes to do in their spare time. Where are you from/going? Family? Fun?  Current affairs: the weather, the news, sports will do in a pinch. Or your community or a new restaurant nearby. You can natter about pop culture: ask about music, movies TV shows. Talk about movies you’ve just seen or music you’ve just heard. Or Martin Scorsese, or So you think you can dance, or Dog Whispering. Or mention a new band or the latest best-selling book. You could remark on a piece of clothing or accessory. An easy and natural comment about the occasion or location followed by an open question works wonders. You don’t need to agonize over sparkling opening lines just say something then add a tag question (isn’t it? don’t they? doesn’t it?) You can compliment (only if you mean it) something they’re wearing or an accessory. Ask where it came from.

You are a genius until you open your mouth

Keep it light, and stay way from avoid anything deep or sexual. Pick-up on pointers and free information. Expand on what you already know about each other. Talk about who you know and look for common ground. Show you are genuinely interested. And listen.

Remember to be charming rather than alarming. That means eye contact and a smile (don’t overdo it or you’ll scare them), open body language and synchronizing. And make sure the other person does at least half of the talking. Remember to shut up and listen. Listen with your eyes and your ears.

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