Small talk by definition, is polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters. In this crazy, hectic world we live, everyone approaches small talk differently, some may believe it’s a waste of time, while others simply aren’t sure how to go about it. For those who know the art of small talk, it’s a way to be polite to a stranger in an elevator or to break the ice when meeting with someone new, personally or professionally. You might be surprised what you gain from a few words.
One of the keys to small talk is listening. Instead of using idle chatter just to fill silence, listen and learn from it, you can build better connections with those around you. Use the information you learn to build better relationships.
If you’re in a leadership position, small talk is important for a couple of reasons. It may feel awkward at first but with employees, it helps you establish trust, build rapport and allows you to find out what common interests you may have. Taking note of interests and certain facts is the key to making small talk easier. If you learn someone has a unique hobby or one of their children is on a traveling basketball team, it’s an easy way to connect with that person the next time you pass in the hall or have a meeting. We don’t expect you to remember every child’s name and every employees’ hobby but if you learn it, write it down as a reference, you’ll be amazed at the endearing look on someone’s face when ask how “Joey’s” team did over the weekend.
The most common topic of small talk is usually the weather, depending where you live, you’re never at a loss, especially in the winter. Small talk can also be as simple as “How’s your day going?”
Take the challenge, whether it’s a social event, the person standing next to you in the checkout line or a team member at work, take the time to listen and learn, it just might translate into a new business deal, happier employees or making a new friend.