Like it or not, small talk is an unavoidable part of life. It’s also a part of work, which can be anxiety-inducing for introverts and shy types. No matter what your job is, honing your small talk skills can really help when it comes to maintaining good relationships with coworkers.
So how do you get better at small talk? Here’s what etiquette experts and an HR analyst recommend:
- Listen more - Being a good listener is the first step to improving small talk. “When you listen, follow up with questions about what they are talking about, and make a conversation from it,” advises Human Resources Analyst Adrienne Couch.
- Ask easy and open-minded questions - This makes it easy to start up a conversation. You can also make a general comment on your surroundings instead of asking a question to get the conversation rolling.
- Work on your non-verbal cues - These can be anything from holding a door open to smiling at a coworker and while they may seem insignificant, they can have a big impact on improving relationships at work. Your non-verbal cues send a message, so etiquette and coaching consultants Rachana Adyanthaya and Julia Esteve Boyd recommend making eye contact, smiling and watching how you sit and carry yourself.
- Disclose something general about yourself - Sharing something is another good way to improve small talk at work. These experts advise keeping it work-related and not too personal, like “I just got vetted into this committee and I’m excited to be part of the project.”
- Know how and when to exit a conversation - This skill is just as important as what you say, so knowing how to make a smooth exit and avoid awkwardness is key. Couch suggests that “you communicate that something needs your attention, or your next appointment is coming up.” She recommends thanking the other person for their time and referencing something they said and how you found it interesting and would love to hear more next time.
Source: Hello Giggles