Chitchat your way out of three potentially uncomfortable conversations. Heck, you might even make yourself a better man in the process.

RANDOM DUDE RUNNING AN ERRAND

Look, he’s being nice. So when he comments on envelope prices at the post office, don’t shrug and go back to your smartphone. Counter with a joke. (“Yeah, and they don’t taste any better either.”) You’re showing lighthearted goodwill. Consider it practice for when a gorgeous woman chats you up.

YOUR BOSS IN THE ELEVATOR

Resist the urge to pitch an idea. Instead, use the opportunity as a setup to a pitch. Talk about a shared interest – Thai food, soccer. Then, after some banter, close with, “Glad I caught you, actually. Do you have a minute this week to discuss a new idea I have for the payroll department?”

YOUR GIRLFRIEND’S GIRLFRIEND

If you’re meeting the friend for the first time, skip the “I’ve heard so much about you,” and go straight for something you’ve actually been told. If your girl mentioned that her friend is a runner, ask her about the best local trails. It shows you’re attentive – to your mate and her friend.

Source: Dr Diana Boxer, a professor of linguistics at the University of Florida and author of The Lost Art of the Good Schmooze.