Small Talk Like an American, Listen Like a Swede


One of the things that I appreciate the most about being in New York is that Americans are so great at small talk. It’s easy to connect with anyone and it really brightens up my day!

As a Swede, I’m not used to being called darling by the Starbucks lady or having everyone asking me how my day is going. But what I am used to is when someone asks me a question, they will actually listen to the answer. Like really listen. Which is usually not the case in American small talk culture… The small talk simply doesn’t lead anywhere, and it feels like such a waste!

Compared to Swedes, who are famously quiet and hard to connect with, Americans are famously expressive and outgoing, which creates a dating advantage with huge potential. But only if you know how to leverage it! If you knew how to go from small talk to genuine connection, wouldn’t that make it so much easier to connect with people, make new friends and ask someone out on a date?

Let’s imagine for a moment that we live in a world where American style small talk is the norm (even in Sweden). How can we use that opportunity to genuinely connect with each other?

Well, a good start would be to actually answer the questions people ask us, “How are you?”(or Hur mår du?)is probably the question we ask and get asked the most times every day, but it’s usually just met with a simple “I’m fine.”. What would happen if we took this opportunity to share something about ourselves?

What if you were to share what is going through your head at that moment? It doesn’t have to be super big, or dramatic, just true. Try telling people what is on your mind. Are you feeling hungry? Excited to see the person who asked the question? Worried, fascinated or looking forward to something? Share it! You don’t have to do a full speech or anything, but make sure to answer the question with a full sentence.

I encourage you to stop for a second the next time someone asks you how you’re doing and take a moment to feel into how you are doing. And when you’ve told your friend/colleague/stranger about it you genuinely ask it back. Chances are that if you just shared something about yourself they will too. Suddenly you have a great foundation for a continued conversation that’s gone deeper than most in just the first minutes.

If you want to make this extra advanced you follow it up with a question about what the person just said. And then you carefully listen to the answer. Because that is where the real magic happens: when you are present, curious and interested in what people tell you about themselves.

Can you do these two things; answer with authenticity and listen with presence and curiosity, you can make every everyday interaction into a possibility for a new connection, friendship, dating and really good relationships.

It doesn’t matter if the “how are you?” comes from a friend, at the beginning of a date or from someone you would like to date. Being open to answer it will deepen your connection with that person and make it so much easier to get to know them, make them feel good in your company and start to connect in a more personal way.

And the best thing is that the “how are you?”-door is always open. You just have to walk through it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here