One of the most important skills as a business owner or successful employee may not be in the perfect marketing plan or new idea. The key might be in the power of your small talk.
Communication is incredibly important to our company. If you've worked with us, talked with us, or seen our day to day schedule, you'll know how important staying in touch is for us. We talk about the importance of an online business plan, strong marketing plan, and creating a knock out online presence very frequently. Each of these tools lies in the heart of our business model and what we offer our clients. When it comes to being a successful and pragmatic part of the business world, it comes down to something much simpler. It's not everyone's favorite part of the working world, but it's something we all deal with every day, and that is small talk.
I know, you might be shuddering at the idea, but it's more important than you might realize. Not only does it strengthen your bonds with your coworkers, but it also helps you stand out to your bosses and managers, and can make those cocktail parties and work events a little less awkward. Even on online meetings and video conference calls, small talk can play an incredible role in staying connected and making your work from home set up a little less lonely. Learn a little more about how to strengthen your small talk skills to make a bigger and better impact.
We're sure you've had those days where you're over people asking "how are you?" when they aren't listening to what you're saying. We're sure you've had days where you feel that question is the only one to ask before your Monday meeting or while you're stuck in the elevator with new coworkers. There is a way to fix this situation, and it only takes a little more effort. According to CNBC, the best place to start is to stop asking those easy everyday questions. Throw them out of your conversational repertoire and dig a little deeper. You can still ask these question, but in a much more meaningful way. Instead of asking "how are you" try starting with "what's keeping you busy right now?" or "what's your biggest goal for the week?'. Opening up the conversation for something more meaningful can take the panic and dread out of small talk. Connections can be made with these kinds of questions, and you can draw in the attention of who you're speaking to. Once you ask these deeper more open-ended questions, continue the conversation with an equally deep follow up question, CNBC recommends. In recent studies done by Harvard, individuals who take the time to ask these follow-up questions appear more likable, that they understand their conversation partner, and that they really care.
OPEN YOUR EYES
CNBC suggests that you "open your eyes before your mouth". Pay attention to your surroundings before you start a conversation. Notice any unique decorations in an office space or on a desk, a coworkers vintage mug, or a new hair cut. You can begin by complementing these items or wardrobe changes, and then ask about how these items make them feel or what their connections are to such items. If you can also connect to these items, offer up these little anecdotes about yourself. You're allowing a connection to be made over a mutual loved object or topic while making those around you more comfortable. You can even up your small talk game by not answering any questions at all. According to an interesting tidbit from BusinessInsider, sharing simple things about yourself and offering up something real that recently happened to you can start a deeper, meaningful, and sometimes hilarious conversation. Most people feel strange and awkward about small talk, too. Skipping to the actual conversation can make things much easier. Don't overshare or get too personal with these interactions, they still need to be business appropriate. Sharing your latest cooking ventures or your first grader's favorite book can be all that it takes.
PAY ATTENTION AND BE ATTENTIVE
Asking the question or giving up a conversational anecdotes is only half of the puzzle. If you're going to ask these questions, you need to listen to what's being given back to you. This needs to be read in your facial expression and in your body language. Being warm and welcoming to the answers your receiving is very important. Also, it is never too soon to speak up. Don't wait to break the ice on Monday morning or before the big Friday Zoom conference. One of your fellow coworkers might jump ahead of you and ask your questions. This can leave you in the dust and in the back of the minds and attention of your boss and managers. You can use small talk to be remembered for later when your current project succeeds or you're preparing to ask for a promotion. Staying quiet can leave you lost in the shuffle. You don't need to stand and perform a monologue, but asking more than about the weather can give you a little more daily credit.
HONESTY AND PRACTICE
According to BusinessInsider, admitting that you're not a fan of small talk and that you want to get into a deeper conversation can also win favor in small talk situations. Always remember to be sensitive about questions concerning religion, politics, or money and move onto really wanting to know the person you're speaking with. Start with "what's been your hardest challenge so far" or "what's your proudest achievement this year?". One of the biggest keys to success in these situations is asking questions about the person you're speaking with. People love to talk about themselves when the opportunity arises. Compliment them in an honest way or open the floor to allow them to teach you something new.
How do you get in the habit of naturally being able to have these elevated forms of small talk conversations? The same way you get better at anything; practice! Practice small talk with everyone you meet. There is a very high probability that you won't see these people again, anyway. Every time you strike up a conversation like this you'll make someone's day and get beneficial practice time.
It doesn't take make, but strengthening your small talk skills can improve so much in your personal and professional life. Being stuck in a very digital world where we rely so much on our cellphones and email can be dangerous to our communication skills. Don't fall into this trap! Take a few moments out of every day to make a meaningful connection, even if it's just over your excitement about the return of pumpkin spice. Make every conversation count a little bit more than the last.