Small talk help: after exercise class

I am not great at the small talk, but I’m not awful. I can comport myself fine at a party where I don’t know anybody or a dinner with friends of friends.

I have started taking a dance-type exercise class. I don’t know anybody in the class but most of the women strike me as interesting people judging by dance enthusiasm and general facial expressions. A lot of the people seem to know each other and chat afterward. I would like to get in on this.

I’m not even necessarily looking to make friends, would just like to feel like not-a-stranger. Nobody’s talking to me so I’ve got to do it. I just can’t think of a thing to say beyond a comment on what someone’s wearing or the weather.


Start with a compliment, follow up with a question. Works every time.

I want to see some of these facial expressions…

I have/had a similar problem with small talk, i.e. I’m fine once I’m introduced to someone and comfortable, but those first two minutes of conversation are torture. One piece of advice that I find really helps I found on a dating advice column, but it works in just about any social situation: Have 5 questions ready to ask. Diversify them a bit, maybe one about pop culture, one about sports, one about something that happened locally, etc. Just say “What do you think about BLANK?” For me, simply knowing I have enough “ammo” to last me a few minutes in conversation will put me at ease enough that I can at least appear to be a normal, well-adjusted human :slight_smile:

Just off the top of my head:
“I see you seem to be a pretty good dancer. Have you taken lessons before?”
“I like your shoes/pants/shirt/headband. Are they/is it comfortable?”
“I like your BLANK. Where did you get it?”
“I’m Carlotta. Have you guys taken lessons here before? You seem to know each other.”
“So, how about that INSERT JUICY LOCAL SCANDAL? Can you believe it?”
“Man, Honey Boo-Boo. What a character!”

Ok, don’t use that last one. But really a smile, a question that lets them talk about themselves, and some nodding are all it takes.

Did I have a snake with me when I came in?
Have you ever been to prison?
Do you think we wear the same size underwear?
Did you eat my pudding?
Hi, how am I?
Who did your nose?

You won’t get to participate, but there will be a lot of small talk about you.

S’up? (I’m not very good at small talk with strangers, either.)

Is it possible to just start small and say “hello” to various people when the class starts? At least seeming friendly is a huge and easy step to making people want to talk with you. Build up a certain comfort with simply saying hi to everyone or most everyone. Then throw in the odd comment about your upcoming week or past week or whatever. And so on and so forth until you’re “in good” with everyone to the point of being basically part of that group that chats afterwards.

When complimenting, it’s usually safest to compliment an article of clothing or piece of jewelry. Complimenting someone’s body, even a relatively innocuous body part like eyes or hair, is usually inappropriate if you don’t know someone very well. I recommend earrings; that’s a very safe thing to compliment.

Say hello to people as you walk in, say goodbye to people as you leave. Make a general comment on the way out a la “That was a really tough class!” or “I really loved that routine we were doing there” or whatever. Best case scenario, someone else outgoing says “Oh me too, so much better than what we were doing last week!” and bam you’re talking. Worst case scenario, you’re just making a general observation, no harm no foul.

“I really like your top–where did you get it?” “That’s a great pair of earrings!” “I used to have a water bottle just like that one but I used it so much it broke!” Someone will bite, eventually.