Surviving holiday parties: Focus on small talk

Important steps in small talk can help you make lasting connection

It’s that time of year again! Time for smoked ham, scented candles and small talk at holiday parties.

But here are some tips on how you can be a better partier this holiday season.

Food, fun, friends and family. There’s so much to like about holiday parties. But there’s also a lot of things to hate about them.

The key to enjoying parties is all in conquering small talk. It can lead to important conversations and connections.

But how can you start a conversation with someone you barely know?

First, look for someone who is scanning the room. That means that they are looking to chat and would be the perfect person to approach.

Next, know the safe territories for conversations. Those include sports, weather and pop culture. If it looks like the conversation is going well, try diving into more personal topics, like family and work life.

Finally, be more interested in their opinion than in telling them yours. Just listening and asking people questions will make them think you’re a great conversationalist.

A Harvard study found that talking about yourself triggers the same pleasure sensation in the brain as food. Use this to your advantage and you can leave the party with a new connection. 

In her book, "The Fine Art of Small Talk," Debra Fine suggests going to a party with a goal in mind, such as meeting three new people. This will make you feel like you accomplished something once you leave the party.