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6 steps to surviving awkward small talk during the holidays

 

It's that time of the year again! The holidays are almost here...which means seeing crazy Aunt Sue and your second cousin twice removed (what does that even mean?!) again. Finding things to talk about with your distant relatives can be *super* awkward but there are a few easy tricks to nailing convos with those family members you either don't remember meeting or haven't seen in forever. If you're stressing over small talk, don't worry—we've got you covered.

1. Plan ahead.

Before they come over for the big Thanksgiving feast, brainstorm some conversation starters, like "What's on your Christmas list this year?" or "Who do you think is going to win the game today?" It doesn't have to be too specific, especially since you probably don't know much about the person to start with and open-ended questions (aka ones you can't answer with a simple yes or no) are great to get people chatting. You can also ask your parents beforehand for any inside deets on your relatives.

2. Always ask questions.

Small talk is all about making connections. Once you start the convo, keep it going by asking questions based on their original answer. People *love* talking about themselves, so focusing on your great uncle's model train hobby or his career as a freelance photographer is sure to be a success.

3. Keep things light.

When you're chatting, stick with safe topics. Avoid talking about anything related to politics, religion or getting too personal. Thanksgiving is a time to embrace your fam and enjoy each other's company...not start world war three!

4. Be a good listener.

Listening is just as important as talking. Make direct eye contact with the person and show that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. It will also help give you more things to chat about as the convo continues.

5. Smile.

This may seem like a given, but a big grin goes a long way in making the other person feel comfortable. Your pretty smile makes you seem more warm, friendly and approachable—all good qualities to make your cousin's new BF want to sit next to you and talk about their new apartment in NYC.  

6. Remember, practice makes perfect.

The common saying really works. If you rehearse what you're going to say either in front of the mirror or just in your head, then actually speaking it will come out much more smoothly, and you won't be stuck wondering what to say when the moment comes. And don't worry if small talk doesn't come naturally to you. Some of us are introverts or just plain shy, and that's okay. Do your best and know that it will get easier the more you do it.

Have you ever faced an awkward encounter with one of your distant relatives? Share your stories in the comments!

Photo credit: Gunaxin.

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by Cecelia Yost | 11/17/2016
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