How (and where) your small talk can make a big difference

People hope to avoid small talk

Can’t stand trivial chit chat?

Maybe it’s too challenging.

How do you start small talk?

Perhaps you find it a complete waste of time.

But there are several reasons why it’s worth feeling more comfortable with small talk.


The benefits of small talk

Read and synchronise mood: Firstly, small talk helps gauge the mood of a person.   It helps neural coupling, or the more commonly known, matching [insert link] allowing both speakers to be on the same wavelength, creating rapport.

Build trust: Such connection is are marked by trust. If there’s no trust, there’s no relationship.  If you’re in a position of influence, for example, managing others or you’re part of a team, that trust established by small talk helps you to realise the motivations and values of others, thereby making it all the more easier to collaborate.

For example, you discover that Matt loves ziplining. You find a “Best Ziplines in Europe” guide and you recommend it.

Combat loneliness: small talk helps to establish common ground and combat lonliness.

Matt, who you thought was never ‘your type of person’, confesses to sharing your love of history walks. You actually find someone who’s want to know where Pepys buried his cheese. It’s quite euphoric. You’re expanding your tribe.


Where your small talk is useful

  1. Stuck in the lift – avoiding awkward silences with colleagues
  2. Negotiations – you need to dig into what the other party’s values and concerns are.  They’ll be more likely to reveal these if you’ve allowed time to build trust and synergy.
  3. On a company course – this is a great opportunity to expand internal networks and again, fill in that white space between pouring the coffee and the end of break.
  4. Progress chats – informal chats to see how a project is going with your team. They’ll likely be more open with you, especially if you haven’t seen them for a while.
  5. Difficult conversations – giving others the time to attune and remove and adverserial atmosphere that allows people to lower their defences and be more open to solutions.
  6. Networking events – creating contacts, opportunities, partnerships, finding information. Again, it greases the wheels and you may find unexpected connections through social discourse.
  7. New colleagues – get them to feel at ease, and discover their interests and motivations, making management and collaboration easier.
  8. Job interviews (they often take the ability for social chit chat into account when it comes to employability. You could lose an opportunity if small talk defeats you.)

In short, small talk can make work more enjoyable, as it does life, in the wider sense.


Your Action

  1.  Pinpoint a situation where you can benefit from improving your small talk;
  2. Now you know why you need it, watch out for next week’s post where you’ll discover how with conversation starters?



Want to boost your Influence Skills but not sure where to start?
I’ve got a range of options for different budgets and durations: from one to one self-paced online courses, live coaching and team training.  There’s even white labelled online courses for companies.
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