12 steps to be a ‘small talk’ expert – Business Etiquette

July 24, 2013 in Etiquette Tips, Home

Small talk acts as an icebreaker to “real” conversations. By learning the art of small “talk” you can make others feel valued and comfortable in your presence. In this way you foster better relationships, close more deals and make more friends. Here are some tips on how to learn the art of small talk:

  1. Practise initiating conversation – you are going to have to learn to speak to strangers! In a safe situation – strangers can become potential clients, best friends or a future spouse…Begin at the post office queue or frozen vegetable aisle.
  2. Don’t wait to be introduced – you could wait all night! Introduce yourself. Be consoled, others are as petrified as you and by taking the initiative they will be grateful to you.
  3. Make sure you have an appropriate self–intro – “ a soundbyte ” that makes others interested in listening and speaking to you further.
  4. Have a store of appropriate ice breaking questions that you can use to get conversation going e.g. “What got you started in this industry/profession?” “What do you enjoy the most about being a doctor/salesman/PA?”
  5. Use the person’s name in conversation–make sure you pronounce it right – its one of their most valuable possessions e.g. “Thandiwe, what a pretty name – what is its meaning?”
  1. Use statements that invite a response “It’s been a great conference–what sessions have you enjoyed so far?”
  2. Listen WELL to pick up clues about others interests and passions, so you can steer the conversation to include them more.
  3. Keep the tone of communication positive – steer away from the doom and gloom.
  4. Golden rules: don’t complain, don’t dominate, don’t interrupt, don’t give away all your secrets, don’t interview them, don’t put someone down, actively listen, match their pace!
  5. Keep up to date with current events in the world and in your industry – read industry journals, listen to news head lines etc. you will then appear well informed and up to date.
  6. When someone else joins a conversation, update them on what you were discussing and invite them to share their views. This will make them feel accepted.
  7. Conclude the conversation on a positive note/action plan. “I am so pleased to have met you – “I will e–mail that article by tomorrow”.

Practise these tips on a regular basis in no time you will be a pro at the fine art of small talk


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