What small talk is and isn’t plus some top tips.
What is Small Talk?
There is nothing very small about small talk according to research we only have 7 seconds to make a good and strong first impression.
Small talk allows you to break the ice with someone and helps them make them feel more comfortable. It’s a two-way interaction and establishes a connection, it shows politeness and generally allows you to network successfully.
It doesn’t have to be a painful, or an awkward moment and I’ll let you into a little secret – most people find it difficult. Many will do almost anything to avoid it and all too often we slip into talking about our work.
It’s far harder to do it when your naturally quiet or shy so let’s practice and develop this skill. Small talk is a skill that can be learnt and it’s so special.
What SMALL TALK isn’t
Three new ways to think about small talk in a different way.
Small talk isn’t a chat. A chat is something we do with friends, work colleague or family over a cup of coffee or some other similar situation. It’s also something you do with someone you already know quite well.
Small talk isn’t banter which is often a conversation full of jokes/jibes and laughter. We often hear these kinds of conversations in pubs in the UK.
Small talk isn’t gossip which is talking about someone or several people when they aren’t in the same room or space.
My Top Tips
- Smile and offer a handshake. Hugs and kisses in certain situations are also great. ( Currently socially we need to keep our distance but hopefully, we’ll be able to return to at least a handshake in the future. A handshake is universally recognised as a signal of professionalism, politeness and confidence. Make a good introduction and don’t forget to tell them how nice it is to meet them or see them again.
- People love to talk about themselves. Say hello and ask an open ended question to make conversation. Eg How was your journey? Where are you from? Did you have far to travel?
- Get into a conversation by focusing on the other person and less so on yourself and try to remember their name. ( by repeating their name a few times whilst in conversation will help here)
- Be prepared and informed so you can have a conversation by bringing up something of interest to bring up eg an interesting event in the news or something about your common location.
- Think before you speak, and keep the tone light and positive.
- Silence is OK, listen actively to the other person.
- Give something to someone so they can respond. Perhaps begin with a statement or question.
- Think about your body language. Make good eye contact and hold it, especially whilst shaking hands and introducing yourself. Exchange good and positive energy.
- Talk about general interesting subjects and avoid politics, religion and money.
- Make a good exit and close the conversation well and don’t forget to say goodbye nicely.