Small talk could be considered a necessary evil, especially at networking events or when socializing with a new group of friends. While some—primarily extroverts—get enjoyment out of chitchatting with new acquaintances, it can be considered a somewhat painful experience for many. That being said, it's best to sharpen your small talk skills in an effort to make the experience more enjoyable for yourself and others—because it wouldn't be a networking event or a holiday party without it.
Business Insider recently chronicled the many ways to improve your small talk skills, compiling tips from Quora and Reddit users discussing the matter. Most notably, users suggest asking your new acquaintance a lot of questions and generally letting them do more of the talking. "If you don't fundamentally care about the person you are speaking with, that will show, and that may be the primary reason why you are running out of things to discuss," said Kai Peter Chang on Quora. "Let the other person speak more. People LOVE talking about themselves," chimed in Anam Gulraiz.
More specifically, try asking more open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing—yes or no questions do little to stymie the awkwardness. "In general, open-ended questions lead to more conversational paths," said Craig Weiland. "For example, instead of asking a fellow party guest, 'Are you here with your family?' you might ask, 'How did you meet the host?'"
Head over to Business Insider for the full list of small talk hacks, and share your tips below!