Don’t make small talk – have a conversation
Small talk may have a place for a quick and effective introduction upon meeting new people. It is typically a light and casual conversation that avoids for people having to take a strong position on any topic. Small talk can help getting to know people better. It is a way of being able to getting to know new people without getting too close yet you have to socialize with them.
And that is the problem with small talk: “yet you have to socialize with them”? Really? That is not a good start to any relationship. There is a time for small talk, but on an average day this should not be a concept you should be employing at all. Small talk is nothing more than a silence killer. We cannot stand silence for long. We have to look for something to talk about because we have been groomed to believe silence equals making no progress with anything.
So what should we do in place of the friendly yet most meaningless verbal banter? Make use of any opportunity meeting folks at eye level and having a genuine and sincere conversation. Remember that this is not about you, but it is about the person you just met. Most practical thing to do is to start asking questions like “who inspired you and influenced you the most?” “what kind of a career path are you following and where are you with that now?”, “what is the most fascinating and fun thing you have experienced recently?”.
I am sure you can come up with more engaging questions that fit the occasion. Key to getting to know folks is to listen to them and that also means having a few cool questions that cannot be answered with a Yes or No. Not your cup of tea and you would rather not even know or speak with others? Keep up the small talk then. It is not for me though and I am hoping that you will be ready for getting to know some amazing folks. Every one of us has some amazing stories to tell and some inspiring journeys to learn about. Small talk only helps keeping that bottled up and locked away – it’s a huge waste of potential.