How to Make Small Talk at Work

How to Make Small Talk at Work

If billions of people around the globe work every day, then why do 2.9 of them shy away from making small talk with co-workers? It seems strange that they avoid the people they spend the most time with. But here's the kicker: they manage not to engage in small talk and the scheme varies.

Some never look up while they plug in and play their headphones. Others will find life-or-death excuses that prevent them from making conversations in the elevator, in the lady's room, and even in the break room. Few will find reasons not to go to everybody's favorite eatery for lunch the day you both crave the same food.

What Jamie Terran, a NYC-based licensed career coach, knows is a good rapport between managers and co-workers is essential to building trust. She says, “Rapport is the feeling that allows you to extend a deadline, or overlook smaller mistakes because it makes it easy for you to remember we’re only human. Right or wrong, building rapport through interaction with colleagues could be the thing that gets you the promotion or keeps you in the role you’re in.”

If we're really honest, we'd admit we're okay with getting the job because people like us, not because we're the most qualified. More people are offered a position based on their fantastic personality or by making a more memorable impression than the candidate with the too-tight tie and a qualifying degree. So, relax next time you sit in front of an interviewer and make small talk. If you find it difficult to loosen up, make small talk anyway. You'll find it makes it easier to just be yourself.

Although small talk may seem small, it's a huge deal. When a roomful of people is extra quiet, it can be awkward. Some people feel like total geeks because they can't hold a mere conversation with co-workers or anyone else for that matter. They are content to be alone and Netflix the weekend away. However, there are ways to avoid feeling weird and lonely.

Practice or Plan Small Talk Conversation

Introverts are naturally nervous in social settings. Terran recommends brainstorming topics to discuss before you indulge in conversation. Think of good small talk questions that will prompt the narcissist into doing most of the talking. If not that, start the conversation with situations you can discuss openly, in particular, if something odd or funny happened to you recently.

On the other hand, you can talk about “topics relating to your professional field, for example, an article you saw or book youread,” Terran said. However, “discussing things you truly care about is always the best strategy.”

Realize You're a Likable Person

Psychological Science publisheda study in 2018which proves people “systematically underestimated how much their conversation partners liked them and enjoyed their company.” More to the point, “people don’t remember what you say — they remember how they felt when they were with you.”

Having a Bad Day?

We're all human and occasionally, we don't feel like conversing with co-workers. It's okay if occasionally you don't want to talk. Just put in your earbuds. Your co-workers understand it's a sign which means “Do Not Disturb.”

Similarly, you should refrain from making small talk with co-workers while they are literally in the bathroom stall. This is not the place to engage in office politics or gossip, nor is it like a small conversation between two friends. Stay in your stall and please, observe bathroom etiquette in the workplace.

Small Talk Doesn't Last Long

The thing about small talk is it doesn't last long, it's one reason they call it “small” talk. Since chit-chatting at work is supposed to be limited, you can easily say you must get back to work and avoid the list of small talk questions. This excuse is perfectly appropriate for the occasion and hardly anyone will notice you really just wanted to get away from them.