In the ‘information age,’ communication is the key to a successful office career. While lucid communication has always been a desirable attribute in a professional, especially for those in delegating and leadership or management roles, it has become much more quintessential today. Why? Companies are seeking professionals who are adept and comfortable in all forms of communication, including making small talk that leads to better working relationships.
How to improve the conversation by shifting the focus to small talk
When developing communication skills, it’s important to first focus on mutual interests demonstrated in initial small talk. Take the attention off “me” and put it on “we,” so that you can discuss a topic that you and your colleagues enjoy. It’s effective when relating to co-workers, talking with subordinates or managers, and building rapport with clients.
To be viewed as a true office professional, it’s important to establish or showcase your prowess in communication. That can be achieved by speaking decisively, confidently and in a manner that is understandable, convincing and engaging. Since communication is a two-way process and both or all parties must feel engaged, it is quite possible that what you talk about might not entice the other person enough. That is where small talk becomes your strength. Whether it is your interview or your first interactions with your fellow colleagues, small talk can give you the impetus you need.
What does small talk have to do with things?
In many ways, small talk is considered a normal part of any job. Unfortunately, there are some people who don’t like such conversations. When you speak about topics that matter to you and the other person, you can easily guide the conversation. At a more basic level, you get to establish a connection that will work in your favor. Small talk is also necessary if you wish to switch the topic of a conversation or you simply wish to steer the whole correspondence in a certain manner. Use open-ended questions to get the conversation going and invite people to tell stories instead of one word responses. Here are some conversation starters at the office:
- What do you enjoy most about your weekend?
- What is the most interesting thing that happened at work today?
- If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you like to be?
- What is the best way to accomplish our target for the week?
As Dale Carnegie stated, “Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.”
Using small talk during an interview to improve your career
Communicating better and more lucidly will become easy when you master the strength of small talk, especially on topics of mutual interest. For example, while being interviewed for a job, a candidate can use small talk to build a common ground with interviewers and appear to have the right personality for the job. This will present a candidate as having a confident, interesting and asserting personality. Use these tips during an interview:
- Don’t ramble on. Keep small talk interesting and brief
- Realize the interviewer is asking questions initially to see how easily you can engage in conversation
- Answer the questions you are asked
- Look at the interviewer and look interested in the conversation
- Listen more than you talk
These are attributes that any company in any industry would want to have in its employees.
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