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Learn the FORD Method and You’ll Never Struggle to Make Small Talk Again

Jessica Stillman
4 min readNov 7, 2023


The pandemic may have been officially over for a while now, but all signs point to the fact that many people are still finding their feet socially.

Searches for “What to talk about at work?” have risen over the past two years. Social media is peppered with stories of people struggling to remember how to talk to other humans. And mental health professionals have noted an uptick in social anxiety. A 2022 study suggested that Covid changed our personalities, nudging us to be less extroverted and agreeable.

Of course, many people have always struggled with talking to strangers. The pandemic seems just to have made us that much more awkward. Which is a shame, because science shows that, though we sometimes dread it, interacting with other humans reliably makes us happier. Social graces can also be a powerful way to build relationships and increase your chances of success.

So if you’re among the many who sometimes panic when you have to make small talk, is there a solution? I’ve written up plenty of lists of possible conversation starters in the past, but I recently came across a framework that struck me as even easier to remember and implement. It’s called the FORD Method, and learning it will hopefully banish conversational awkwardness from your life.