You are an intelligent and articulate person. You have no problem giving a lucid presentation, delivering an eloquent speech or participating in a political debate. You strive for meaningful conversations and have no patience whatsoever for small talk. “The weather is nice, isn’t it?” Really, who cares?
Although seemingly trivial and superficial, small talk is the starting point of all relationships. Romances and friendships begin with small talk. In a more pragmatic light, you can’t avoid it. Getting a job, working with colleagues, winning new clients — all of it requires small talk.
Americans call it the “Gift of Gab”. Want to be successful? You’d better acquire this gift.
An article on the Forbes website lists a few reasons why small talk is so important for one’s career. Not only does small talk make us more likeable; in one’s career, small talk is also a “free option”.
It can lead to a host of outcomes, from a merely pleasant exchange to the signing of a multimillion dollar business deal, says the article.
In a time where a big part of our lives has moved online, the art of small talk is elusive and mysterious. The awkward experience of feeling like a total outsider at a social function, such as a company event or a dinner party, is shared by many of us.
But don’t worry, says Elizabeth Bernstein, a relationship columnist at The Wall Street Journal, you can learn to develop your conversational intelligence.
First of all, remember small talk is not about communicating, it’s about connecting. Bernstein advises to focus on the other person.
Bad small talkers tend to dominate the conversation. They spend too much time on their favorite topic, whether it’s football or how clever their kids are.
They think they are being social because they are talking. But they are talking to somebody, not with someone. Such people often give the impression of being self-centered and inconsiderate.