We know you’ve been there: A party, a wedding, a work event. Your palms are sweaty, you laugh awkwardly at jokes that aren’t really funny, you bring up the weather, because hey, it’s been nice out lately and people like the sun, right?
If you’ve been in this exact situation, miserable and awkward as hell, talking to people you don’t know in a place you really don’t want to be, just remember that most of the people around you probably feel that way, too. That’s because the art of conversation is dying for most young people in the United States. In fact, 65 percent of millennials don’t feel confident in face-to-face social interactions, a new One Poll survey of 2,000 young Americans (18 or older) found.
The survey, commissioned by Don Pablo Coffee, also discovered that 30 percent of millennials cancel or just don’t go to events they’re invited to because they fear it will be socially awkward.
But things aren’t so bad behind a screen: 8 in 10 of the young people surveyed reported feeling more comfortable having a conversation via text message or online. (Here are four signs you’re addicted to your cell phone.)
That’s a problem: Knowing how to talk to people helps further your relationships and even your career, yet 2 in 5 millennials report experiencing problems with both because of their lack of social skills, the survey points out.
“Whether you’re with your friends or important business clients, most people don’t want to feel less than equal when everyone else is talking about world news—or bored to tears while they talk about TV shows you haven’t seen,” says Debra Fine, Colorado-based communication expert and author of The Fine Art of Small Talk.
So next time you default to weather-talk at the dinner table, bar, or party, heed her advice and find out how you can BS your way through any conversation.
Stuck chatting up a complete stranger? Here are three things to say to a person you have nothing to say to. Thank us after you get home and breathe a sigh of relief.