How to Influence People and Handle Small Talk with Confidence

Influence People and Handle Small Talk

In today’s world, where first impressions matter more than ever, the ability to influence people and handle small talk with confidence is a valuable asset.

Whether you’re networking for a new job, trying to win over a client, or simply want to make a good impression on someone you’ve just met, mastering the art of communication is key.

But how do you do it? How do you become the person who can walk into a room and command attention, who can effortlessly strike up conversations and leave people feeling impressed and engaged?

Fear not, for there are a few key strategies you can use to boost your confidence and become the master of influence and communication.

9 Unexpected Tricks to Influence People and Ace Small Talk

In a world saturated with communication, the ability to influence and connect with others remains a rare and valuable skill.

But forget the tired advice about active listening. We’re diving into the unexpected, the unconventional, and the downright surprising strategies that will transform your communication game.

1. Master the Art of “Yes, And…”

Imagine playing improv comedy, where you build upon each other’s ideas to create something hilarious and engaging. That’s the essence of “Yes, and…” in conversation.

Instead of passively nodding or simply saying “okay,” an enthusiastic “Yes, and…” shows:

  • Engagement: You’re actively listening and interested in their thoughts.
  • Collaboration: You’re building upon their ideas, fostering a sense of teamwork.
  • Flow: You’re keeping the conversation flowing naturally and organically.

Think of it like adding fuel to the conversation fire. It encourages the other person to elaborate, share more, and ultimately, feel a deeper connection with you.

Here’s an example:

  • Person A: “I’m thinking of starting my own business.”
  • Person B: “Yes, and what kind of business are you thinking of?”

This simple addition shows Person B is genuinely interested in Person A’s thoughts and wants to know more.

2. Weaponize the Power of Curiosity

Curiosity is a powerful weapon in the communication arsenal. Ditch the boring “How’s your day?” and ask intriguing questions that spark genuine interest and make the other person feel valued.

Instead, try:

  • “What’s been the highlight of your week so far?”
  • “What are you most passionate about?”
  • “What’s one thing you’re really looking forward to?”

These questions show you’re genuinely interested in their life and experiences, which goes a long way in building rapport.

It’s about more than just gathering information; it’s about creating a space for them to feel heard and understood.

Think of it like this: would you rather answer a generic question or one that invites you to share your passions and dreams?

3. Leverage the “Reverse Psychology” of Small Talk

Sometimes, the best way to ace small talk is to take a step back and let the other person do the talking. This “reverse psychology” approach can be incredibly effective.

Instead of dominating the conversation, ask open-ended questions that invite them to share their thoughts and experiences. This not only:

  • Reduces pressure on you: You don’t have to worry about constantly coming up with new topics.
  • Gives you valuable insights: You learn about their personality, values, and interests.

It also shows you’re confident enough to let them take the lead and that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Here are some examples of open-ended questions:

  • “What are you working on lately?”
  • “What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?”
  • “What’s one thing you’re really passionate about?”

By giving them the space to share their stories, you open the door to deeper conversations and create a more meaningful connection.

4. Weaponize the Pause

Let’s face it, sometimes we feel pressured to fill every silence with words, even when we don’t have anything to say. But what if I told you that silence can be your best friend in conversation?

Think about it. When you take a moment after someone finishes speaking, it conveys confidence and thoughtfulness.

It shows that you’re actually listening and processing what they’ve said, rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. This small pause can also create anticipation and encourage the other person to elaborate on their point or even ask you a question.

So, next time you’re in a conversation, don’t be afraid to let the silence hang in the air. It might feel awkward at first, but trust me, it can be incredibly powerful.

5. Embrace the “Power of Vulnerability”

We’ve all been told that vulnerability is weakness, something to avoid at all costs. But in the realm of communication, vulnerability is actually a superpower.

Sharing a personal story, a funny anecdote, or even a relatable struggle can create an instant connection with the other person.

It shows that you’re genuine and authentic, that you’re comfortable being yourself despite your imperfections. This can be incredibly disarming and create a sense of intimacy that goes beyond superficial conversation.

Of course, you don’t need to overshare or reveal your deepest secrets. But by sharing a little bit about yourself, you open the door for others to do the same, fostering trust and building deeper connections.

6. The Magic of Mirroring (But with a Twist)

We’ve all heard about mirroring, that technique where you subtly mimic someone’s body language to build rapport. But there’s a twist to this technique that makes it even more effective.

Instead of focusing on mirroring someone’s posture or gestures, try mirroring their energy. Match their enthusiasm when they’re excited, their calmness when they’re relaxed, their humor when they’re playful.

This subtle shift creates a deeper connection and fosters rapport on a more emotional level.

It’s like saying, “I’m on your wavelength, I understand what you’re feeling.” This can be incredibly powerful in building trust and creating a sense of belonging.

7. The Unconventional Compliment

Forget the basic “you look great” or “nice outfit” compliments. Let’s be honest, those don’t really mean much and often feel generic. Instead, try to pay attention to the person’s actions and words. What are their strengths? What did they do or say that impressed you?

Here’s where the unconventional compliment shines. Instead of focusing on their outward appearance, compliment their insights, their problem-solving skills, their sense of humor, or their kind heart.

This shows that you’re genuinely interested in them and that you appreciate their unique qualities beyond just their physical attributes.

Imagine how much more meaningful it is to hear “I was really impressed by how you solved that problem” instead of “your hair looks great today.”

The latter might make them feel good in the moment, but the former leaves a lasting impression and shows that you recognize and value their true strengths.

8. Harnessing the Power of Silence

We often feel the urge to fill every silence with words, even when it’s not necessary. But let me tell you, silence can be a powerful tool in communication. Used strategically, it can elevate your conversations and add depth and meaning.

For example, if you’ve just said something important, let the silence hang in the air for a moment. This allows the other person to process your words, reflect on them, and potentially respond with a more thoughtful answer.

Similarly, when asking a question, don’t jump in with the answer immediately. Instead, give the person a moment to gather their thoughts and formulate a response. This not only shows that you’re truly interested in their opinion, but it also allows for a more genuine and meaningful dialogue.

Silence can also be used to create anticipation and suspense. If you’re telling a story, for instance, a well-timed pause can add tension and draw the listener in. Just remember, silence isn’t awkward, it’s an opportunity to connect on a deeper level.

9. The Thank You That Goes Beyond Words

Sure, a simple “thank you” is always appreciated, but wouldn’t it be more meaningful to show your gratitude in a more personal way?

Instead of just saying “thanks,” try taking it a step further. Thank the person for their time, their insights, their unique perspective. This personalizes your gratitude and shows that you truly value their contribution to the conversation.

Think about it like this: if you spend an hour talking to someone who truly listens and engages with you, wouldn’t you feel more appreciated if they expressed their thanks in a way that acknowledged your effort and contribution?

It’s the small gestures that often leave the biggest impact. A personalized thank you can go a long way in building lasting connections and fostering meaningful relationships.


Experiment with these unconventional tricks, find what works best for you, and let your unique voice shine through. With the right approach, you can transform your communication game, build stronger relationships, and leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet.