Stuck for small talk? Tips on chatting with adults

EMILIE LE BEAU

O h, yawn. Mom and dad have their friends over, and you’re stuck talking to adults all evening. Say the wrong thing and the ’rents get mad. But say nothing, and they’ll be ticked you weren’t friendly. So how can kids talk to adults?

Easy. Ask adults questions about themselves. “Many of them like to talk about what they do for a living,” suggests psychologist Tim Ursiny, author of The Confidence Plan.

Kids also can talk to grown-ups about movies. Ask what was the last good movie they saw, because people “light up” when the conversation turns to movies, Ursiny says.

Ask if he or she is into Harry Potter. It’s a topic both grown-ups and kids enjoy, so go ahead and discuss whether Dumbledore really is dead. But Ursiny suggests to stay away from the topic of video games unless you know the adult plays it.

Remember, adults were once kids, too. Ursiny recommends asking adults what school was like when they were your age. “It might be a fun discussion if you com pare your eighth-grade experiences,” he says.

Make sure you chat with your parents beforehand to find out which topics are off-limits. And always think before you speak. Don’t reveal embarrassing stuff such as how dad has been sleeping on the couch, Ursiny says. Also, don’t chat about the things that make your parents feel guilty. Don’t com plain that mom has been late picking you up from swim practice. Instead, Ursiny says, kids should put themselves in their parents’ shoes. Learning how to have that type of understanding might help you in the future. “The most successful people can empathise with others,” he says.

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