Small talk

I hate small conversations. You know those polite, hey, how are you’s … that never lead anywhere. Half the time people don’t even wait to hear the answer. They are already busy moving on to the next person with the same question. Or they are busy preparing in their head, the answer to your answer. If you say I am having a great day, they will likely come back with an answer on how much more greater their day is… or if you say that you are not having such a great day.. they’ll be like.. yeah, tell me about it, mine just went…blab…blab… blab.

These aren’t just people who are not interested in your answer. These are people who are just looking for an opening so they can dump on you whatever is going on in their head, their life, their job, etc.  It’s tiring, exhausting, boring and a complete waste of breath.

And that’s just half the story. The other half of the time, these people are so desperate to impress you, to show you how impressive they are, how important they are, that you will literally be looking for a way to get out of the conversation, break the contact, move on. Been there? Sounds familiar? Not only were you not impressed, you manage to barely get away with either a lingering or full on annoyance at their arrogance.

Did I get your attention?

The same principle applies for emails and chat conversations that go the same way. Actually, scrap that, it’s worse. Because the first email is usually followed by a longer one requesting some sort of favor, assistance etc. The reason it’s worse is because the long email will also have a sob story, something that goes along the line of how many more people they are responsible for. Show me one person who doesn’t have bills to pay and just decided to get into the workforce cause it’s so much fun.

Seriously, don’t waste my time, don’t waste his/her time, don’t waste their time, don’t waste anyone’s time including yours with that. It doesn’t work. No one is sitting around waiting to hand out jobs with salaries to the next person who comes along with small talks and sob stories.

Work doesn’t get done like that. Are you going to hire a driver to drive you around if you don’t own a car? Your skills, education, training are products. Make sure that the people you are approaching are people in your industry or that at least they are looking for or are interested in the skill set you have to offer. Otherwise, leave it well alone.

Small conversations are an Art. If you are going to engage in it, first things first…. REALLY listen to their answer and then follow it up with an open-ended response that allows the other person to either expand on what they were saying or close the conversation and move on. If they expand on their response, you just might find that an interesting topic that you would both like to actually have a conversation on.

Now a lot has been written on this, so head over to the following sites for some tips:

http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/work-life-etiquette/manners/10-big-rules-small-talk

http://www.fastcompany.com/3030091/work-smart/how-to-master-the-fine-art-of-small-talk

http://www.ou.edu/class/bc2813/ConversationTips/MasteringSmallTalk.htm

and finally:

The art of small talk for dummies:  http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-master-the-art-of-small-talk.html

Now as an introvert who behaves like an extrovert when needed, I would much rather have a conversation over a small talk any day. But it’s also an inevitable part of everything that I do. So for someone (an introvert) mastering small talk was no easy task. What was easy though, is taking a human interest in the people I am talking to. If you are genuinely interested in the other person and their response, conversation really do flow.

The art of small talk

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Posted on October 16, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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