Whether it’s in the office, an offsite or a staff function, knowing how to small talk is all apart of being a business professional. Unfortunately, it has a reputation for being superficial and unnecessary. However, it can provide the foundations for effective and meaningful business relationships. Communication and engagement is the glue that helps bind people and empower them to respond and work together. Plus if you have aspirations to climb the corporate ladder, engaging with people throughout the organisation is critical
The first step is to get you in the right headspace. Facing the fear of falling into trivial conversation might be especially likely for introverts, however it is important to remember that everyone has some degree of social anxiety. Once you highlight the reason for why you avoid engaging in small talk, then you can make a plan to conquer that fear. Create a pitch to start the conversation and your interest in the person will be made immediately clear. Tailor the conversation around the current situation or their particular character. It is also helpful to come up with a 30 second introduction which is broad enough to be used time and time again. It doesn’t always have to be about work, but try using the conversation to display your interests and passions. This should help with continuing the conversation, especially since it’s a topic you are familiar with. Finding common interests or experiences is what turns small talk into meaningful conversation.
Always ask questions and be engaged in what they have to say. Most people enjoy talking about themselves and are flattered when you take an interest in them. By asking follow up questions, you allow more room for your contributions to be just as relatable. Keep them open ended to allow for conversation paths. This will lead to the a flowing discussion.
One last tip is to boost your conversational partner’s self esteem, done in a genuine way of course. You want to leave the conversation knowing you made their life a little better after having met you. Practice makes perfect at the end of the day. So practice with everyone you meet. You’ll eventually start feeling comfortable enough that it won’t feel like small talk anymore, just simply, good conversation.