If you are not good at small talk, it can lead to big disadvantages in the business world.
Although commenting about the weather or the latest sports scores may seem trivial to you, having the ability to initiate, or at least, participate in trivial conversations can help you navigate networking events, open the door to attracting potential new business and give you something to say to your own boss at corporate affairs.
If you are not good at coming up with trivial topics, don’t fret, we’ll provide you with tips on improving your small talk skills.
Show Interest In The Other Party
The number one secret to making small talk if you are uncomfortable with it is getting the other person to talk.
How do you accomplish this?
By showing interest in them and asking questions.
Rather than awkwardly rambling on about your long commute due to the rain, ask the other party a question to encourage them to speak.
If you know who you will be meeting with in advance, it would be advantageous to do some research on them to see if you can find out any personal interests they have, and then encourage them to discuss those.
Use Open-Ended Questions
When asking questions to show interest in the other party, the trick is not to ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, which would put the pressure back on you to continue the conversation.
Instead of asking, “I heard you like to play polo, is that true?”- say, “I heard you play polo, what made you interested in this sport?”
Mostly, small talk centres around the weather, recent events and industry news.
The problem is that it’s hard to make small talk if you are not up-to-date on these happenings.
Before you find yourself at an event with nothing to say, prepare topics to discuss related to these fields.
Read or watch the news to familiarise yourself with recent local and international events to bring up; however, try and stay away from politics.
As it’s hard to predict what political side other people may be on, the last thing you want is to start a controversial debate at a work function.
Staying current on important industry news is also helpful to have something to discuss at business events.
You can accomplish this by signing up for relevant newsletters, following companies on social media, joining industry-related LinkedIn groups, etc.
The more you know about the topic, the more you will have to say.
Head of Training and Development
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Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.