Small talk; you hate it, but you do it anyway. In fact, you are kind of forced to. You find it pointless and unnecessary yet it creeps into your life and the next thing you know you catch yourself discussing the weather with a stranger. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?
The majority of people consider small talk to be a terrible experience. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, and the truth is that you need it in your life. That’s how you talk to your colleagues at work, acquaintances or even strangers at the bus stop.
Learning how to communicate with other people effectively is key to succeeding in your career. I mean okay, it might not be easy but it can be enjoyable once you learn how to do it, and after you have done it a few times it will come naturally to you.
The point of Small talk is to create a good atmosphere for the person you are engaging with, and it is the first stage of communication. Essentially you are trying to make them feel more comfortable. Wouldn’t you like that?
Well, here are some reasons why small talk is more beneficial than you think:
#1 It Breaks The Ice
Small talk works as a great ice-breaker. Meeting a new person might be overwhelming because you don’t know how they behave or how they are used to doing things. A simple observation or a question, though, has the power to start a meaningful conversation; this kind of conversation gives you the sense that you have known this person for a long time. That is the kind of rapport small talk can help you build.
#2 It Builds Your Network
It is no secret that networking is an essential tool for developing your career. Since the first step of getting to know someone is small talk, you realise how important this is for your professional network right? In fact, small talk helps you make new contacts as well as keeping them in your circle. So the next time it happens and you meet someone you know – or don’t know, make the move and ask them how they are doing.
#3 It Makes You Smarter
Apparently small talk can increase your intelligence. A study by the University of Michigan showed that engaging in a friendly, social interaction improves your problem-solving ability and has the same effect as working on a puzzle. Researchers explain that this happens as you try to read other peoples’ minds and try to see things from their perspective.
#4 It Makes You Likable
Think about the example of a bus stop. Imagine that you are standing in line, and you are waiting for the next bus to arrive. With you, there must be another eight to ten people waiting. So, what do you do in the meantime? Making use of the opportunity to smile and greet these people surely won’t do you any harm. On the contrary, it will make you look more friendly, kind and likeable. But since most people are not used to being treated as nicely by other people they might be a bit suspicious.
#5 It Makes You Feel Good
Putting yourself out there has more benefits for you than other people. Engaging in small talk with your colleagues, for example, gives you the satisfaction that you have made their day brighter and happier, and that is more than you could ask for. Saying a simple ‘Hello’ doesn’t cost a thing, and it does make you feel good knowing that you have accomplished something. Take it from Adele, she knows what she is singing about.
To make things easier, there are many things that you could talk about. But, you might want to start with easy topics such as the culture, or things that you or the other person might be interested in such as movies, books, or even the news.
The real trick is how to do it. Here are some useful tips to help you build rapport through small talk:
- Listen carefully
- Use their name often
- Ask open-ended questions
- Make compliments (only if you mean it)
- Share a common experience
Small talk isn’t such a big deal, so why do we make a such a fuss about it? What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below…