When it comes to conversational skills, the ability to make small talk is essential. These casual conversations may seem inane, but they actually serve a very important purpose: the ability to bond with those around you.
In the workplace, small talk can help you forge stronger bonds with your co–workers and managers. Through conversation, you can demonstrate your interest in your colleagues’ lives without being invasive and share tidbits about who you are that can enhance the working relationship.
For many, making small talk isn’t on their list of favorite activities. However, by following the tips below, you can master the art of small talk, ensuring these small conversations have the biggest positive impact.
Start With Questions
To put it simply, small talk should never be all about you. Instead, it is smart to express your interest in the other person, and the easiest way to do that is with a question.
When you bump into a colleague, greet them by saying “hi” and addressing them by name. Then, ask them how their day is going. You can also get more specific. For example, if you know they just got out of a meeting, ask them how the meeting went. If they are working with a new client, ask them how that’s going. This allows the other person to take center stage and increases the odds they will feel the interaction was positive.
Be Positive When Responding
When a co–worker asks you a question, it is always best to skew your answer toward the positive and productive aspects. For example, if you’ve had a hectic morning, and they ask how your day is going, you can say, “It’s been busy, but I enjoy the fast pace.”
A simple response with a positive spin makes the conversation more pleasant and increases the odds your colleague will keep engaging with you, making it more likely you can both strengthen the relationship.
Plus, this approach ensures you don’t say anything negative that might be overheard by management and taken the wrong way. You can never be sure who may be passing by and hear what you’ve said, so erring on the side of positive helps avoid any potentially bad situations.
Choose Neutral Topics
After exchanging initial pleasantries, if you both still have time to talk, consider shifting onto a neutral yet engaging topic you share with that co–worker. For example, if you both like the local football team, talk to them about the game.
In cases where you aren’t sure if you share interests, try to find out more about theirs. Asking if they’ve seen any good television shows or movies lately is usually a safe place to start. If it’s either a Thursday or Friday, you can ask if they are looking forward to the weekend or if they have any big plans.
Topics to Avoid
When making small talk, there are certain topics that should be avoided in most cases. Unless you work for a political organization, politics are usually a no-go. Similarly, unless you work for a religious organization, religion isn’t something you want to bring up.
Asking a colleague about their relationship status is also inappropriate. The same can go for asking about their family (unless they have already mentioned their family members to you) or for details about their health.
Ultimately, making small talk is a necessary skill. By using the tips above and practicing when you get a chance, you can master this form of casual conversation, giving you an opportunity to bond with your colleagues and form stronger working relationships.
If you’d like to know more, the team at PrideStaff can help.
Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.