Small talk is a way to start up a conversation with anyone in any situation. It’s an easy and effective way to break the ice and make someone feel comfortable around you. You can make small talk about anything, be it the weather or sports, but it’s best to steer clear of controversial topics like religion or politics in order to avoid offending.
Small talk is vital for situations where silence would be awkward and uncomfortable, but where in-depth conversations would not be appropriate.
Business small talk is any small talk that occurs in a business setting, such as before a meeting. It differs from casual or social small talk; it has an agenda behind it – either to network or to find out more about your clients.
When initiating conversation, show interest but do not be creepy, or too inquisitive. After all, the purpose of small talk is to communicate in a friendly, without either offending anyone or getting too personal.
Tips and Tricks
- Try to talk about general topics. Topics in which almost everyone is interested or can get involved.
- Aim to find something common with the other person. Like same weather, same choices, same hobbies, etc.
- Safe topics to talk about: movies. travel, books, theatre, weather, hobbies, sports, food, etc.
- Topics to avoid: politics, personal gossip, religion, personal appearance, personal finances, death or illness, offensive jokes.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Do not ask too many questions. It will set off the conversation.
- You can begin with statements/questions about something immediate- like the weather, environment, current events, etc.
- Make the other person feel important by focusing on them, instead of you. Talk more about them.
- Give honest compliments.
- Be well informed and have knowledge about the current affairs by readings newspapers, magazines.
- Close the conversation politely.
- Hey, I’ve noticed how good you’re at chess. Would you give me some tips?
- A client told me about your project. I am really impressed by the way you handled the problem-solution.
- Looks like you also like football. Right?
- The weather is so crappy today, isn’t it?
- Hey, did you catch the game last night? Barcelona smashed everything.
- So, how things are going at your workplace? I heard that you’ve got a new start-up?
- I guess you’re into cryptocurrency! Is it safe?
- Hey, I am not really sure about this, but I guess we’ll have a great event this year, unlike last.
- It’s not often that I go to a restaurant. Usually, we cook with the family.
- I really like your Instagram profile. It seems you love to travel.
- The reason I asked this is because I noticed that you have many pet photos on your profile.
- You went to the climate conference last week. It seems that you are up for environmental causes.
- Yeah, I love birds, in fact, I am a member of a birdwatcher’s society.
- I usually commute to work in a car but prefer going by bike for fun. What type of bike do you have?
- Speaking of weather, I found out that you are really fond of ice-creams. Right?
- I just realised that you also like going hiking.
- That’s pretty common in my country. We have it every year.
- Do you have a recommendation for the best theatres in Turkey?
- So where are you heading this year for vacation?
- It was nice talking to you. I have a meeting now. I better head out.
Controversial Topic: A controversial topic or issue is an issue that arouses strong feelings or emotions. It divides communities. These include- Politics, Religion, gender, civil rights, etc.
Breaking The Ice: It refers to saying something to a stranger so that a conversation can get started.
Networking: This is a process of building new professional relationships and contacts with other people in a business setting.
Inquisitive: This is an act of being too much or unnecessarily curious about other people or things. This is offensive to people.
Conference: This is a formal meeting between people who share the same interest in something.
Recommendation: This refers to a suggestion about something that is good, or beneficial.
Commute: Commuting is the act of going to the workplace.
Start-Up: A start-up is a newly established business/firm/organisation.
Hybrid Working: Hybrid working is a new model of working that has come into trend due to the recent pandemic. When a person works remotely, and also work in-office, this refers to Hybrid Working.
Upskilling: When a person learns new and additional skills, it is called Upskilling.
Interpersonal Skills: These are those skills that are used to communicate with other people in an effective manner.
Gossiping: Talking foolish/false/offensive things about people, which can offend them if said to their faces is called gossiping.
Current Affairs: Current affairs are the events of national, social and political interests that are going at the present times.
Chit-Chat: Talk about small and not so significant matters
Appropriate: Something that is suitable and acceptable.
Reference: When we mention or refer to something in our conversation.
Open-Ended Question: An open-ended question is a question that cannot be answered in a “Yes”, or “No”. The respondent is free to say anything to answer such questions.
Divulging Information: It is an act of simply asking for information that is previously unknown.
Compliment: This is a polite expression to praise someone.
Conversation Starter: This is a question or statement that kickstarts a conversation.
A: Hey, just went to watch a movie yesternight with a friend. Do you like movies too?
B: That’s great! I do not like movies, I just prefer watching TV shows on Netflix.
A: Are you following the FIFA World Cup? Oh, what a wonderful semi-final we had!
B: Yeah, I watch it too. Absolutely, it was a popcorn worthy game.
A: So, how long have you been in this business?
B: The idea for this business originated during my college, however, I’ve established my business during the last 3 years.
A: Do you commute to the office, or do all the work remotely?
B: My business is hybrid. I work remotely, but I have an office where I commute to when needed.
A: I have plans to go abroad next month. Did you also have overseas work?
B: Yes, I went to the UK last year for one of my start-ups. I go abroad frequently.
A: Is it true that it rains in your city for the most part of the year?
B: No, that’s what everybody thinks, but it’s not like that!
A: Did you like the food at the conference?
B: Yes, it was delicious and it has a variety to accommodate everyone.
A: Do you go to the gym, or are you into some sport?
B: No, I am not a gym person. However, I run in the mornings and play badminton during the weekends,
A: How has the pandemic affected your business?
B: Pretty much bad, it was almost shut.
A: Do you work on upskilling yourself?
B: I prefer polishing my existing skills, but in the meantime, I am trying to develop interpersonal skills.
A: So, which is your favourite book? Do you like reading?
B: Absolutely, I love the classics. My favourite book is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
A: What do you like doing in your free time?
B: Well, it depends. If I am in a good mood, I just sit back and relax with my family. If I am anxious, I watch some movies to occupy myself.
A: When did you have your last vacation, and where did you go?
B: Wonderful question. I went to visit the Sea of Stars in the Maldives last month.
A: This afternoon I made delicious Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza). Do you also like cooking?
B: Oh boy! That’s my favourite dish. I absolutely relish eating and cooking both.
A: Is it cold there? Like really cold?
B: No, it’s quite fresh. Pleasant weather!