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Real Simple: The 10 Big Rules of Small Talk

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Know what, when, and how to say something in a social situation.

Anyone who‘s been caught at a wedding reception or a cocktail party discussing recent precipitation knows that making small talk isn‘t as easy as it sounds. On the contrary, conversing with strangers can be awkward, stilted, even painful. But there is an art to it, and it can be mastered.

“A golden rule is that you don‘t have to be brilliant, just nice,” says Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast, in New Albany, Indiana. “If you start with simple, even obvious comments, that makes it easier for others.”

Here are 10 rules gleaned from communication specialists and women whose jobs require extensive networking and party-going for navigating sticky small-talk situations with style and grace.

(Image by: Rob Howard)

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