Master the Art of Small Talk
In an ever-evolving world where much of the business done today it through email, we sometimes forget how to communicate face to face. It's a scary thought that we can easily close deals over the computer but can't have a fluid conversation in person. Nowadays, so many employers look for potential employees with outstanding customer service skills and people skills. Small talk is so essential and important in the "real world". You'll use it when making new friends, moving to new towns, and interviewing for jobs. it's a massively crucial skill to further improve communication skills. Nothing is more awkward than meeting a new person and not being able to making it past the first few sentences without an weird pause. It can make or break any business deal as well as cut off any future deals with a company too.
I have worked in retail in a the restaurant industry for about four years now and I think I have fully mastered small talk which has helped improve my customer service skills overall. There are a few key tips that can really help make a client for life, a business partner, or a friend. I wanted to share a few tips of mine with you today so you can adopt them in your professional and personal lives.
Enthusiastic Greeting -- Start the conversation off with an enthusiastic note. If it's a formal setting, a handshake is always appropriate. Make sure to smile, introduce yourself and keep eye contact with whoever you are meeting. Ask them how they are doing and enthusiastic to respond to their questions. If you show that you're engaged in the conversation from the get-go, you will be automatically setting the conversation up for success.
Open Ended Questions -- In order to avoid those awkward silences and long pauses, it's important to keep the conversation going. Try to avoid asking yes or no questions, ask and open ended question. These questions require answers with more detail. This will lend you more information on the receiver of the conversation. You can then understand them more without having to ask meticulous questions. For example, instead of asking someone "Was this the job you always wanted?" ask them "What about this job attracted you?" or "What is appealing about this job?".
Pick Up on Little Things -- This plays off of the last tip. You need to be a great listener in small talk because it will help you pick up on the little things. The phrase "tell me about yourself.." can give you so much insight to another person's life. You can find so many topics to connect on in just one or two answers. Keep your ears open, and your mouth closed while the other person is answering. Try not to cut them off and once they are finished make another connection.
General Questions -- There are a few general questions that can get you off on a great foot in any conversation. You can always ask about siblings, education, hobbies, and sports teams. Even if you find someone with a rival sports team, you can always talk some light sports or know what team to avoid talking about. Just keep them open ended and pretty generic.
Tread Lightly -- Remember, it's just small talk so keep it small. Don't ask about relationships, politics, or controversial topics. You don't want to start off a conversation with a disagreement. Keep it light and not too serious.
Remember Names and Big Events -- Remembering names and important topics that you talk about is crucial. If you forget and it pops up the in conversation again, it can come off as you not caring about the conversation or as you not being interested to hear what the other person has to say. By remembering it shows the receiver that you value them and what they are saying.
Do Homework -- Finally, do your homework. In a formal interview or business atmosphere it's important to do your homework. It never hurts to know a companies backstory of a little bit about the boss. Make sure to scan headlines every now and then. If you're up to date on what's going on in the world, on campus, around the city you can easily connect on something that's automatically similar between the two of you.