This is the season when social/business parties and special events take place. If you find making small talk during social interactions challenging or tiresome, you’re not alone! Many think small talk is inauthentic and a waste of time, but it plays a crucial role in making us feel emotionally connected to others.
- Whatever social event you are involved in, think about adopting “host” behavior. Regardless of your role, when you act like the host of the gathering, you naturally showcase warmth, approachability, and genuine interest in others.
- Accept that small talk brings results. I have always said that small talk leads to big talk and that it paves the way for building a stronger sense of “community”, particularly with your customers. This is critically important these days given that most of our interactions are virtual.
- Personalize your dialogue by being genuinely interested in others. Use their name. The words of Maya Angelou have great power: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”.
- Read your audience. When you encourage others to talk about themselves, you will tap into their reservoir of good feelings.
- Extroverts are more likely to share personal information compared to introverts. For an introvert, relationships take time to build, so avoid asking deep questions initially. Begin with a safe and unobtrusive question beginning with: “I was wondering…” or “Here’s a fun question that I was asked recently…”
- Introverts often need time to respond so avoid asking quickfire questions. Volunteer information about yourself first and then ask a question. Instead of questions, you can offer a point of view where it’s easy for introverts to comment.
- Ask leading questions that are original and personalized. If you choose to discuss work, asking someone what they do for a living won’t cut it. Instead, ask the following:
- What made you choose to work in this industry?
- What’s been rewarding in the work you have done this past year?
- Working on anything exciting these days?
- Here are some conversation starters that can initiate engaging conversations without discussing business. Don’t use “yes” or “no” questions if you want a discussion.
- What’s on your bucket list that you would like to check off in the next year?
- What’s something you do to spoil (or recharge) yourself?
- What have you decided upon as your New Year’s resolution?
- Find commonality which brings people together naturally. It might just be that you both dislike making small talk! Sharing similar experiences creates a bond of comfort and familiarity that opens the door to expanding rapport and trust. Introduce a light topic that has an element of humor. This typically makes people feel more at ease, and who doesn’t enjoy a chance to laugh?
Focus on being interested instead of interesting. This will naturally showcase your hosting ability. Happy hosting and best wishes for a joyful holiday celebration!