This is the season where social/business parties and events take place and family members get together. If you find making small talk during social interactions challenging, read on!
- Whatever social event you are involved in, think about adopting “host” behavior. When you are acting like a host, you naturally showcase warmth, approachability and genuine interest in others. Treat everyone like they are a guest in your home and your personality will shine.
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 the majority of our interactions are virtual.
- Understand that people like to talk about themselves.
The words of the late 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”. When you encourage others to talk about themselves, you will tap into their reservoir of good feelings.
- Ask leading questions that are original and personalized. For example, asking someone what they do for a living won’t cut it. Instead ask them what’s on their bucket list that they would like to check off, or what gives them the greatest satisfaction outside of work? In short, be genuinely curious without being intrusive and you’ll create a much more positive experience with others.
- Actively seek common ground.
At the onset of a workshop last week, I was chatting with George, a participant who mentioned that he loved a little-known, off-the-beaten-track restaurant in town. As he described it, my ears perked up, I immediately smiled and said: “I know that place and I go there often.” It was a great moment of connection. Think back to when that has happened to you. It could be a movie, a song, a book, or even where you went on vacation. Sharing similar experiences creates a bond of comfort and familiarity that opens the door to expanding rapport and trust.
- Reserve judgement in a social environment.
Some people may be shy or reserved when you begin chatting with them, perhaps distancing themselves from dialogue. Celebrate your authentic self by acting naturally but reserve judgement when you socialize. This is where I 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?
Happy hosting and we wish you a joyful holiday celebration!
Roz, Becky and Cathy