“Small Talk” Seminar


Trevor Swearingen

Carducci, professor of psychology and director of the Shyness Research Institute at IUS, speaking to students about small talk on Thursday, Sept. 7.

Trevor Swearingen, Staff Reporter

Students at IU Southeast are learning how to overcome shyness and learn the skills necessary for successful small talk.

On Wednesday, Sept. 7 Bernardo Carducci, professor of psychology and director of the Shyness Research Institute at IU Southeast, provided tips for successful social engagement for those in attendance.

Carducci’s How to Make Successful Small Talk: A Step-by-Step Guide to Promoting Social Skill and Campus Connectedness presentation is part of the Mental Health and Wellness Series: Be the Change.

Carducci said small talk, or conversational intelligence, is the “ability to engage others in a verbal exchange for the purpose of developing a social relationship.”

Despite once being a high school football player, he said conversations were difficult  for him, especially when it came to speaking with women.

Carducci said small talk is something people think comes naturally and easily, which makes them afraid to seek advice.

“The key to success with small talk is learning to connect with others, and not just talk to them,” Carducci said.

Carducci speaks on conversational intelligence in Hoosier Room West, on Sept. 7.
Carducci speaks on conversational intelligence in Hoosier Room West, on Sept. 7.

Another key element of Carducci’s presentation was shyness. He said there is a correlation between shyness and loneliness, particularly among college students. Carducci said loneliness is a factor that makes some students drop out of college, thus a connection to campus is monumental.

Although one can be connected to campus, he said there is a barrier that students face when it comes to talking to people within groups and organizations.

“Find someone who looks more shy than you and approach them,” Carducci said. “The real problem with shyness is that it controls you, it holds you back.”

Throughout the presentation Carducci provided advice on conversational intelligence. One recommendation Carducci said was to avoid alcohol. He said it was a myth that alcohol will make you a better conversationalist.

Carducci said another tip was to avoid favorite topic conversations.

“After a minute or two stop and let people ask questions,” Carducci said. “If they don’t ask questions move on to other topics.”

Carducci said a good conversation starter is, ‘nice weather we are having.’ He said it shows interest that one wants to talk to another person, and essentially if the person responds they are also interested in speaking.

“I work on my shyness everyday,” Carducci said. “I label myself as successfully shy.”

Carducci stressed that connection was key to successful small talk.

That connection was made for Andy Haub, elementary education senior. Carducci was Haub’s first professor. He said he first heard about Carducci’s book, “The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk: How to Talk to Anyone Anywhere About Anything” from The Horizon.

A couple of weeks after reading Carducci’s book, Haub met his wife. It was that connection, Carducci said, that almost made him want to cry.

“That is what I always wanted to do, make people connect,” Carducci said.