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时间:2017-08-15 22:53来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]


From VOA Learning1 English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Small talk. Chitchat. These are the short conversations we have at parties, while we wait in line at the store, at family events or work.

Sometimes we make small talk with people we already know but not well. Often we have to make small talk with complete strangers.

Many people find these small conversations about random2 topics difficult. Some people say they hate it. Others say small talk is a waste of time. They may even call it idle3 chitchat or idle chatter4, meaning it doesn’t do anything. They consider small talk not important.

However, small talk is important.

These exchanges can open doors that may lead to larger, more meaningful conversations. When you first meet someone or talk to someone you don't know well, it would be awkward5 to begin a conversation about a really deep topic such as war, politics or the meaning of life.

Small talk also gives you the chance to decide if you want to get know that person better – or not. Let's say you make small talk with someone at a party. But they only want to talk about cats. You may not want to build a friendship with them unless you really, really love cats.

Chitchat can also increase your feeling of understanding, or empathy, toward6 people you know but not well. Chatting with a colleague about their child may help you to understand more of their life outside the office. This could help build healthy work relationships.

Small talk could even help our larger communities -- our relationships with neighbors and colleagues. Exchanging a recipe with a neighbor in your apartment building may make her noises upstairs easier to live with.

And small talk may make us happier!

In 2011, most commuters in the city of Chicago said they would enjoy “quiet cars” where they sat alone and did not talk to anybody.

Researchers at the University of Chicago then asked some participants in a study to talk to people while commuting7 to work on a train. They found that those who made small talk with strangers were happier than those who sat alone.

In 2013, researchers from the University of Essex in Britain asked some people to make small talk in a similar study. They found people who talked briefly8 with a cashier9 in a coffee shop felt happier than those who simply went in, ordered and left.

However, some people are not good at small talk. Making small talk doesn’t have to be either awkward or boring. Here are some tips to improve your small-talking ability.

Tips for making small talk

1. Have some conversation starters ready.

If you have seen a really good movie or have read a really good book, you can talk about that. You can talk about something that you recently learned10.

When you are sharing the same experience with someone, it's easy to start a conversation. You simply notice and comment on what's going on around you. For example, if you are at a party and a song comes on that you like or that reminds you of something, you can talk about that.

2. Ask open-ended questions.

These types of questions require more thought and more than a simple one-word answer. If you ask questions that need more details to answer, the conversation will go on longer.

For example, if you are at a summer pool party, don’t ask a person if they like summer. Instead, ask them what they like or dislike about summer. So, instead of getting a one-word answer, you might have the chance to share in a memory.

3. Become a student.

Nobody knows everything. So, as someone is answering one of your open-ended questions, they bring up something about which you know nothing. So, tell them!

This lets the other person become the teacher. They feel good about sharing their knowledge and you get to learn something. It’s a win-win situation.

4. Don’t ask, “So, what do you do?”

Some people do not like their jobs. Or maybe they don’t want to talk about it. So, instead of asking, “What do you do for a living?” ask something like, “So, what have you been doing these days?” or “So, what have you been up to?”

One general question can lead to an opportunity to share something you have in common. So, ask questions. Ask people about their families, their passions, their ambitions or even their fears.

However, balance these questions with comments about yourself. Asking too many questions may make people feel they are in an interview rather than in a conversation.

Practice makes perfect

Like anything, getting good at making small talk takes practice.

If you make small talk in your native language, you might become happier. If you are making small talk using English, you will most definitely11 improve your speaking and listening skills.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.

I’m Anna Matteo.

How do you feel about small talk? Do you avoid it? Or do you enjoy it? Let us know in the Comments Section.

Words in This Story

chitchat (chat) – n. friendly conversation about things that are not very important

random – adj. chosen, done, etc., without a particular plan or pattern

idle – adj. not having any real purpose or value

awkward – adj. not socially graceful12 or confident : uneasy13 or uncomfortable

empathy – n. the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions

boring – adj. dull and uninteresting : causing boredom14

win-win – adj. always used before a noun15 : providing a good result for everyone involved

opportunity – n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done

passion – n. a strong feeling of enthusiasm16 or excitement for something or about doing something

ambition – n. a particular goal or aim : something that a person hopes to do or achieve


1 learning wpSzFe     
  • When you are learning to ride a bicycle,you often fall off.初学骑自行车时,常会从车上掉下来。
  • Learning languages isn't just a matter of remembering words.学习语言不仅仅是记些单词的事。
2 random HT9xd     
  • The list is arranged in a random order.名单排列不分先后。
  • On random inspection the meat was found to be bad.经抽查,发现肉变质了。
3 idle 1crzd     
  • Mike doesn't study at all.Instead,he sits idle all day.迈克根本不肯读书,相反地,他终日游手好闲。
  • How much trouble in this life is caused by idle talk!生活中有多少麻烦不都是由闲谈引起的么!
4 chatter BUfyN     
  • Her continuous chatter vexes me.她的喋喋不休使我烦透了。
  • I've had enough of their continual chatter.我已厌烦了他们喋喋不休的闲谈。
5 awkward eu6ze     
  • John is so shy and awkward that everyone notices him.约翰如此害羞狼狈,以至于大家都注意到了他。
  • I was the only man among the guests and felt rather awkward.作为客人中的唯一男性,我有些窘迫。
6 toward on6we     
  • Suddenly I saw a tall figure approaching toward the policeman.突然间我看到一个高大的身影朝警察靠近。
  • Upon seeing her,I smiled and ran toward her. 看到她我笑了,并跑了过去。
7 commuting d2c3874ec246fb1858841223ffe4992e     
  • I used the commuting time to read and answer my mail. 我利用上下班在汽车中的时间来阅读和答复给我的函电。
  • Noncommuting objects are as real to the mathematicians as commuting objects. 对于数学家来说,不可交换的对象与可交换的对象是一样真实的。
8 briefly 9Styo     
  • I want to touch briefly on another aspect of the problem.我想简单地谈一下这个问题的另一方面。
  • He was kidnapped and briefly detained by a terrorist group.他被一个恐怖组织绑架并短暂拘禁。
9 cashier Kruzl     
  • The young cashier gave a patient sigh.年轻的出纳员忍耐地叹了一口气。
  • One brother is a cashier and the other sells.两个兄弟一位当出纳,另一位当店员。
10 learned m1oxn     
  • He went into a rage when he learned about it.他听到这事后勃然大怒。
  • In this little village,he passed for a learned man.在这个小村子里,他被视为有学问的人。
11 definitely RuJzx0     
  • The team will definitely lose if he doesn't play.如果他不参加比赛,这个队肯定会输。
  • I shall definitely be home before six o'clock.6点以前,我一定回家。
12 graceful deHza     
  • His movements on the parallel bars were very graceful.他的双杠动作可帅了!
  • The ballet dancer is so graceful.芭蕾舞演员的姿态是如此的优美。
13 uneasy 8kDwf     
  • He feels uneasy today.他今天心里感到不安。
  • She had an uneasy feeling that they were still following her.她有一种他们仍在跟踪她的不安感觉。
14 boredom ynByy     
  • Unemployment can drive you mad with boredom.失业会让你无聊得发疯。
  • A walkman can relieve the boredom of running.跑步时带着随身听就不那么乏味了。
15 noun JHux3     
  • What kind of noun is this?这是哪类名词?
  • This word is a collective noun.这个词是个集体名词。
16 enthusiasm ajrzQ     
  • We set about our task at once with great enthusiasm.我们立刻兴致勃勃地干起来。
  • A team which is full of enthusiasm is more likely to win.情绪高涨的球队更可能获胜。
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