My final post is about how to make small talk into more meaningful conversation.
As we have learned from experience and from thoughts shared, small talk is necessary (evil or not). It’s an introduction to a relationship between two people. It’s a way to break the silence or awkwardness of a new encounter. It provides a shallow connection, which may be sufficient, or opens the door for more in-depth conversation.
So, for those of us that want to take the next step in the conversation, how do we do it?
In my line of work, small talk is often with people I am familiar with and am also looking to, to make connections, volunteer and seek out for various opportunities.
Listen: If you really don’t have much to say, don’t say anything! (This is much easier for an introvert than for an extrovert!) Small talk can sometimes be just about listening to someone who wanted to share or needed a listening ear. It may be about the most mundane things, but if you are listening, the other person may really appreciate you taking the time to do so. I have found small talk to very quickly turn into someone sharing an emotion that would not have been shared, had someone not listened to them.
Common Ground: Perhaps the other person says something that sparks an interest for you. You discover you have a hobby in common. An easy way to transition from small talk to more meaningful conversation is to find common ground. I know I have been pleasantly surprised when I discovered shared interest, and then I can more naturally jump into the conversation.
Compliment: Being complimentary of someone can go a long way to make a small talk conversation more comfortable.
Their Interests: Sometimes you have to focus on the other person and take attention away from yourself. Listen to what they are saying and reaffirm their interests and experiences. You may not have much to say, but you are learning something new about the other person and that can be valuable information in future conversations.
Ask: Small talk conversation can turn into an opportunity to ask a favor, get volunteers (like I often have to do in my job) or give you the opportunity to help deepen the relationship by setting a date for coffee, or dinner, or hanging out. Sometimes I am surprised by the fruits of the labor of small talk. It might be help with a task. It might be coffee with a new friend. I need to remind myself of this, because often, if you don’t ask, you won’t get much out of a conversation.
The more you put into a conversation, the more you will get out of it.
As horrible as small talk can be for some of us, it has its advantages and helps in making connections and building relationships!
Thanks everyone for your input into this series. I really enjoyed writing it and hope you enjoyed reading it!