When we talk about Communication Skills most people only think of effective speaking, listening and writing skills. In all this we forget a very important aspect of business communication – Small Talk. So what is Small Talk and why do I need to master this art?
Small talk is a polite informal conversation about inconsequential matters. Talking to people in the elevator, during a break or in a team outing, are all occasions that call for Small Talk. Many people are able to talk to others with great ease while others find it a cumbersome task.
The next question that comes to mind is why do I need to learn small talk? It is a great conversation starter and helps in building rapport. Small talk can help build both personal and professional relationships. It is a critical skill for jobs that require networking. Small talk also helps in building confidence and gaining command over a language.
Initiating Small Talk is easy if you have some strategies. Think of Small Talk as a friendly chat and nothing more. Every conversation is not life changing. Keeping low expectations helps. Approach Small Talk as just a friendly conversation, nothing more.
Start by talking about mundane things like the weather or traffic! Keep controversial topics like politics for close friends only. Do not make uncomfortable statements or jokes just to break the ice. Starting a conversation on the right foot is important to build rapport.
It is important to be good listener if you want to be a good conversationalist. Take cues from what other people are saying, this will give you ideas about their interests and views. Keeping their interests in mind while starting a conversation will ensure that the conversation flows.
Keep your body language friendly. People hesitate to approach others who have an unfriendly body language or appear to be aloof. Smiling makes you instantly appear amiable. Maintain eye contact with people around you, it makes you appear confident and others feel important.
Don’t use Small Talk as an excuse to boost your ego. Self-praise and highlighting your achievements will only put others off. Instead talk about what others are interested in. Including a number of people in the conversation will allow it to prolong and the burden will not rest only on a couple of people.
There will be a point in Small Talk when Silence reigns. Don’t worry about this. Have some follow up questions or statements to further the conversation. Also realize when a conversation has ended and the other person is not interested. Trying to push Small Talk on someone does not help.
So don’t be afraid of Small Talk; use it to your advantage.
The BizComm Program of Strengthscape delves into the nuances of Business Communication.