Small talk? Seriously?

Today is “Talk in an Elevator Day” – a day that encourages us to make conversation while riding in an elevator; small talk. Hmmm. Think I will pass on this one.

That’s not to say I’m against small talk. In fact, there are times when it’s enjoyable. The reality is that relationships – work-related or personal – often start with small talk.

Small talk gets a bad rap just by definition. It’s often defined as conversation about things that are not of any great importance. It gets dismissed as fluff, filler conversation, unnecessary. But is it? I think not. Small talk can set the tone for future conversations and interactions; make us feel socially connected; make things more enjoyable. And, if you listen more than you talk, you can learn things.

So why do some people dread it so much? There are many reason, but one is “not knowing what to say.”  Researching this topic, I found some small talk tips that are a great place to start for those wanting to improve their small talk acumen. Think REACH.

Reveal something about yourself – where you work, what you do. Explore another’s interests. Shift the focus to the other person. Ask open ended questions. One-word responses do not a conversation make. Consciously listen for facts and feelings that the other person may share. It will provide additional conversation points. Highlight similarities. Find out what you have in common and build on it.

Small talk can help you make a good impression, inspire new ideas, solve problems and lead to lasting relationships. It doesn’t have to be boring. It’s what you make it.

So, next time you are in an elevator, sitting at a table of people you don’t know, standing in line at the store, at a business conference or in a situation where the silence is deafening, give small talk a try. You just never know. You might even like it.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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