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Social Skills 101: Engaging People with Small Talk

Chase Amante's picture
TEXTSmall talk serves important social functions in the early conversation. Being good at it enables you to have better, more fluid conversations with those you talk to.

In our next installment in the Social Skills 101 series (see Part 1 on why basic social skills are so key here, and Part 2 on approaching unfamiliar people here), we'll talk about everyone's least favorite part of conversation, small talk.

Small talk is the bane of many an objective-oriented conversationalist, and not always for the same reasons:

  • Some loathe small talk and try to move past it or skip it entirely wherever possible

  • Others view small talk as necessary, yet become trapped in it, unable to free themselves from it

Let's discuss what small talk is, the function it serves in conversation, and how to use it without bogging down in inane conversation you can't break free of.

Social Skills 101: Approaching Unfamiliar People

Chase Amante's picture
approach unfamiliar peopleApproaching strangers demands a variety of social skills many people never fully develop. You need a reason to approach, to make sure you’re seen, and to be friendly, to start.

This is Part 2 of my reboot of our old 'Social Skills 101' series.

You can see Part 1, with a video breakdown of various socially unsavvy approaches, here.

In Part 2, we're going to talk about approaching strangers.

If all you want is solid social skills, stranger approach isn't completely necessary (though it is helpful). There are plenty of highly socially skilled people who aren't able to approach strangers.

However, I think it's good to begin with, since a.) a big part of this site is devoted to cold approach, and b.) in the event you're starting off at zero socially, as I did, to even talk to people at all you'll need to start approaching strangers.

So let's dive into approaching and opening people you don't know -- a painfully awkward, uncalibrated social situation for most (even many otherwise veteran socializers who yet never learned to approach strangers).

Social Skills 101: Basic Social Skills Are 100% Crucial

Chase Amante's picture
basic social skillsIt doesn’t matter how slick you look or how many great tips you’ve absorbed. Good basic social skills must come first if you wish for social success.

This is the first installment in a reboot of our old series on social skills.

Social skills are the single most crucial skill set for anyone to learn to work with other people.

We'll use dating as our vehicle to discuss these skills. Nevertheless, as you learn social skills in dating, you'll apply them to every area of your life too.

Social skills aren't deliberately taught. You don't learn them in school, except incidentally. Most people only intuitively understand social rules, and only once they've learned them.

People shun and shame those with insufficient social skills and grace.

However, you can develop these skills at any age; it just takes focus and practice.

In this series kick-off article, I'm going to show you just why social skills are so absolutely crucial.

Do You HAVE to Be Your Group's Alpha to Look Good?

Chase Amante's picture
must you be alpha?When you go out with the guys, do you need to be the alpha male? What if your girlfriend is there and she’s watching – will she lose respect for you if you’re not alpha?

On my article about screening vs. qualifying, reader therock asked about the necessity of being the alpha male:

Hey Chase,

I'm not sure there's an article about this specific issue on the site so I thought I'd ask.

I noticed a curious thing when I'm with my girlfriend in a social circle situation.

Say we're all going to get pizza, all close friends, including my girlfriend.

Now there's always someone who's in the lead.

Simple stuff like where to go, what to check out, etc

While I'm clearly in the leadership position with my girlfriend, I find myself in a situation where we're both being led by another guy.

I'm much more of an interpersonal leadership kinda guy. One to one with a girl I clearly lead. But in groups, it's a bit different.

I considered trying out leading he group but found it counter effective for these reasons:

1. One guy's gonna come out of top and if it's not me, I lose even more power points for trying AND failing.
2. Most of the time the guy was doing an excellent job at leading the group. He knows the best restaurants, knows where we'll have a good time (he knows the city much more than the rest of us). So no one's complaining. I've had situations where other guys made leadership faux pas and i jumped in, doing what's best for the group.
3. The leader is my friend, not hostile and never pulls crap like trying to flirt with my girlfriend.

My question to you: is it mandatory that I always lead any group I find myself in with my girlfriend?

What is its impact on attraction?

And what can one do to minimise the effects of being led by another man in front of his girl?

This is a good question, and it's a common one for guys who're starting out.

The answer is a bit nuanced, too.

How to Make Day Game Practical for Your Life

Chase Amante's picture

By: Chase Amante

day game in daily lifeMany guys wish they could easily meet women as they go about their days without hesitation or fear. Well, you can, with the right strategy – however, it takes some short-term sacrifice.

The Holy Grail of game for a great many men is the ability to be 'always on'.

If you can reach that point, the thinking goes, then you can just meet women anytime, anyplace. You'll never freeze from approach anxiety or not know what to say.

The reality of course is that, excepting when you're on a 'run' with girls, you are pretty much always going to deal with at least a little approach anxiety.

However, it is absolutely possible to become a more social man, and integrate this into your day-to-day life... then mix in daytime approaches to women as a part of that.

If you can do it, you can turn yourself into that man who really truly does meet girls as he just goes about his day.

Men Need Their Own Space to Stay Psychologically Healthy

Chase Amante's picture
male spacesMen more and more find themselves enmeshed with women in every aspect of their lives. But this isn’t healthy for men – or men’s relationships with women.

In a recent comment, on the first article in my series on ghosting, a reader asked about feeling jealous over young women's seeming comparative ease in the dating market:

Chase when I read your analysis on how men ages 18 to 25 always struggle the most when it comes to relationships with women I just can't help,but feel cynical and jaded with how unbalanced the marketplace is. I'm headed towards the latter end of that age range and haven't had much of a dating life. I'm sympathethic towards women and know that they endure struggles of their own in life and in dating and I genuinely love women and recognize that most women are sweet and nice,but thinking about how much less women struggle compared to men and how they don't have to work as hard to improve their dating lives or even HAVE a dating life which a lot of men don't have I sometimes lack empathy for them and some bitterness will creep in if something reminds me of this imbalance.

I know in a old article you said we shouldn't compare ourselves with women because we're not competing with them,but it almost feels like men are engaged with women in a tug a war and men are at a disadvantage at least in the West. A moderately attractive woman will have significantly more options than a moderately attractive man and don't have to go through the lengths and struggles a man has to do to even be a viable dating option. Even a older less fertile women will still have suitors,but a older man may not.

I'm working on myself so i'm not just ranting about how difficult dating as a unestablished man is while not doing anything to change or improve. I've taken coaching,a bootcamp, and have a online group where I can discuss game with other people,set approach goals and hold each other accountable. Early on when you were learning pickup what helped you accept the uneven dynamics of dating in the West? Does it just take some success for you to be at ease with how the dynamics are?Do you really have to be in the 1% like some coaches suggest for dating to finally work in your favor and to be at an advantage over women?

Of course, the answer for me is that when I was clueless with women, a guy whom women unequivocally rejected, who could never get dates, and was always alone, I never felt jealous of women or felt like I was in a tug-of-war with them.

Instead, my competitors were men. Women were the objects of my pursuit; men were the competitors I was going up against (and losing against).

We don't envy the fox eluding us in a chase. We envy the other hunter who catches her.

However, this phenomenon of more and more men envying women, and on the other side more and more women envying men, is one I think worth a closer look.

Because it is affecting more and more people.

It is leading more and more people into some very weird and unproductive places.

Tactics Tuesdays: Social Circle Date Showoffs

Chase Amante's picture

By: Chase Amante

date showoffGirls in your close social circle can be difficult to get with. You become a “fixture” to them and they won’t hook up (even if they like you!). How can you undo this? With a “showoff” date…

Most guys run social circles of some sort.

Often there are a few girls in your social circle who are good-looking but not super into you. Or they might be interested in you but they're not compliant enough you're able to get them out onto dates.

If you're also meeting women from places outside your social circle, there's a tactic you can leverage to use the power of preselection to get women in that circle chasing after you.

We'll just call this 'social circle date showoffs'.

It's both simple to do, and deviously effective.

Mouse Utopia: Are We Living in the Human Version?

Chase Amante's picture
mouse utopiaJohn B. Calhoun’s rat and mouse utopia studies show what happens in abundant-yet-overcrowded conditions. Ominously, his findings echo what we see around us in people today.

How much of our modern social ails can be understood by population pressures due to overcrowding?

Certainly we don't want for food, water, or things to do. Our economies are massive; massive enough to comfortably support everyone within them (and far more).

Yet, is this sufficient to produce a utopia... or have we run up on a physical limit that plunges us increasingly into dystopia?

In the 1960s, researcher John B. Calhoun coined the term 'behavioral sink' to describe the situation where behavior collapses due to overcrowding. Based on multiple studies performed by him and replicated by others, Calhoun discovered that mice in overcrowded situations tended to develop a series of pathologies that made them become increasingly dysfunctional socially.

Ultimately, the mice in the experiments became so dysfunctional that, despite plenty of food, water, and nesting areas, and despite being in perfect physical health, they became psychologically unable to reproduce, and completely died out.

What happened, and what can we learn?

What If You Want a Girl Another Guy Wants?

Chase Amante's picture

By: Chase Amante

I'm working on herWhat if you want a girl, but another guy’s been ‘working on her’? Should you go for her anyway... or make a tactical retreat? Well, it depends on the situation.

Let's say you're at a gathering of some sort and there's this girl there you start talking to.

Things are going well between you, then at some point she gets up to go use the bathroom. While she's gone, a guy from the group leans in and tells you, "Hey man, no offense, but I'm working on that girl."

What's the correct thing to do here?

Should you back off and stop picking up on this girl... go look for another?

Should you ignore this guy totally and continue as if nothing'd been said?

Maybe challenge him to a duel?

How do you deal with these 'working on that girl you're picking up' guys?

Social Circle Is the 9-5 + a Mortgage of Dating

Frankie Bismarck's picture
social circle datingSocial circle dating is comfortable and familiar for most men. However, it's also the long road… and more often than not, the road to dissatisfaction and mediocrity.

Depending on socializing (read: building or joining social circles) to enjoy a sex life of abundance is like trying to kill a bird by throwing stones at it.

While it may work to get you SOME sex, it is an unnecessarily longwinded, circuitous route which is filled with annoying obstacles. And ultimately it will rarely, if ever, get you the quality you desire.

Today’s article will focus on this topic.