Not everybody is good at business small talk; they cringe at the notion of pregnant pauses and awkward silence.
Many who see themselves as goal-oriented individuals think business small talk is unrealistic; it does not have any purpose, or lead to a clear objective. They see it as a waste of time.
Even those few who struggle to develop themselves in the art of “idle conversation” admit they genuinely do not like business small talk very much.
They could not be more wrong! Business small talk has a significant function. If done right, a short conversation could do wonders for a career. You could…
- Close an enormous deal
- Gain new business leads
- Expand your professional network with new contacts
- Learn about new jobs or opportunities
- Build profitable relationships
Interpersonal communication is one of those “soft skills” that makes you a valuable asset to an organization. The ability to learn about people, and have them reveal themselves to you in a short period, can be tremendously helpful in your professional career.
Interaction is essential, with clients, contacts and co-workers, even if you do not have a specific goal. Developing business small talk skills will help you get more effective—and successful—at both work and in life.
Five tips for becoming better at business small talk:
· Have a genuine interest in the other person
No interest (or feigning interest) in the other person is a guaranteed fail! Do not be so wrapped up in yourself where you cannot step outside your own life and learn something fascinating about someone else.
· Ask the right questions
Everyone has an experience he or she would be happy to share, even if it is something strange, funny or weird. Always use open-ended questions in a conversation (those without a clear yes or no response). Engagement with another person—a co-worker or client—will help him or her open up to you.
Questions will get the ball rolling, but encouragement will keep the conversation going. How can you give feedback if you have not been listening? Listen carefully, actively and pay close attention to what is said.
This is where most people run into trouble; they are reluctant (or afraid) to share things about themselves. If there is a lull in the conversation, you will have to interject something about yourself. Small talk is about give-and-take.
· Business small talk means having a truly meaningful conversation
Despite what it appears on the outside, when you have a meaningful conversation, small talk is not a waste of time. It is the opportunity to connect with another person. That alone makes it a valuable workplace tool. Everyone can be a better employee (salesperson, marketer, account rep or whatever) when they make connections with the people around them, even if the subject is “insignificant.”
Do you have any tips for effective business small talk? Join the conversation in the comments below!
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