Don’t follow those who say, “Bah. I don’t have time for small talk or the little minded people who engage in it.” Or, “I just stick to the important conversations.”
Small talk is more casual and perhaps lighter conversation but why limit yourself to only information contained in headlines, documents or official speaking situations?
Small Talk connects people quickly and informally through exchanges as simple as talk of vacation experiences, places you like to eat, what you do for fun or profit. Build a relationship, or quickly understand that you must move on from what is simply a pleasant exchange at a social or networking event.
Small talk can be a big challenge, but it’s pay off is big in filling in gaps to understanding local culture and in finding friends yet to be made at work and in the community. I speak from experience at simply moving from one part of Canada to another!
Let me share the Small Talk experience in three basic and active stages:
1. Enter a group conversation already in progress to get started, especially when everyone is already partnered when you arrive. Whether one or a group approach your conversation smiling, relaxed. It will help others want to greet you and to feel at ease.
Say hello. Shake hands. Repeat the other person’s name to remember it better.
Conversation starter tips: Do watch and listen first so that you make an appropriate comment when you are ready.
-Mention the host and mutual interests or your reason for coming.
-If you’re new let people know. Others may take an interest in introducing you, or sharing what they know.
-If you are established already, welcome others-create a positive space and discover a valuable new connection.
2. Impress enough to leave people wanting to speak with you more. Ask questions such as about their impressions or experiences.
Conversation tips: Do listen actively so people feel your genuine interest and enthusiasm.
-Listen for cues to questions and other topics to discuss
-Lean slightly towards the other person and try not to cross your arms, shove your hands in your pocket or fiddle with them, or constantly check the time.
– Ask questions, and do share some information about yourself so that it’s not like an interrogation.
– Comment on what you may have in common.
-Maintain eye contact. It’s rude to look around the room while talking.
– Avoid controversial topics that may offend, stir emotions or make things awkward such as money, religion, race or politics.
Super Tip: Pick three things to talk about in advance. Think about four questions you can ask others to get them to talk. You might try one rich source of questions: News and cultural events. Ask, “What do you think of…?” Have you heard…?” What is your take on…?”
3. Exit gracefully and with tact. Your goal is to make good impression to encourage future contact. If it has not gone well, don’t fret. There are other opportunities. A great motto I read was, “Be bright. Be brief. Be gone.”
Conversation tip: Do say goodbye and show that you appreciate the other person’s part in the exchange.
-To move along you might say, “There’s a client (friend, host, colleague) I need to check in with, excuse me.” Or, “I’m ready a snack (dinner) at the buffet” or, you can offer to refresh their drink and give both of you some space.
VIP Very important to stay positive as Small Talk helps you build rapport. You can talk of more substantial topics at the second meeting.