How to make small talk
Whether you’re networking, building rapport in a mentoring relationship or standing around the office water cooler, knowing how to strike up a conversation is a must.
Here are three tips to break the ice:
1. Ask open-ended questions. Asking questions with a straightforward answer quickly shuts a conversation down. Instead, ask questions that require thought and discussion.
• Instead of asking: “how was your weekend?” Ask: “what did you do this weekend?”
• Instead of asking: “what do you do?” Ask: “what do you like best about your job?”
2. Ask follow-up questions. Open-ended questions often lead to follow-up questions, which lead to a conversation. For example, if your first question is “where are you from?” you can follow that up with “what’s it like there this time of year?”
3. Learn to listen. Making small talk isn’t just about talking; it’s also about listening. Be present in the conversation and use emotion when responding. Your demeanour will put both of you at ease and lead to more meaningful conversations.
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