Leadership Tip

How to do small talk

Office workers have become increasingly adept at avoiding small talk, hurriedly diving into their computer screens, headphones on. That’s a mistake. Small talk builds rapport and trust, which helps grease the wheels of working life. It may even help you get promoted. But making the leap can be anxiety-inducing. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Be anxious instead about not doing it. Small talk can be torture, but not doing it can equally make us feel bad about ourselves. So think of it as simply connecting with the other person.
     
  2. Remember, you’re more likeable than you think. If a conversation goes badly, the other person is probably blaming themselves too. Don’t judge yourself too harshly.
     
  3. Plan. Having a few core questions or stories up your sleeve can help you get over the initial anxiety.
     
  4. Avoid the ping-pong of “How are you? Good, how are you?” by saying why you’re good – tell them about the book or television series you’re enjoying, or even where the best place in town to buy good coffee.
     
  5. Don’t panic, it’s almost over. Small talk needn’t last long, and it’s okay to have an exit planned. “Have a good day!” is perfectly acceptable.

The above leadership tip...
was sent in response to a question from a participant on our acclaimed 10/10 leadership development and mentoring programme. Whether you're a first time manager or an experienced leader, straightforward, practical advice on best practice is hard to find. Until now. To find out how you, your team or your organisation can benefit, please join us on our next complimentary webinar or contact us.


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