Moxxi Marketing Offers Tips for Mastering Meaningful Small Talk
The global COVID-19 pandemic has given a huge boost to social media and has made social media platforms even more instrumental for sharing information. Meanwhile, real-time in-person communications between and among people has declined considerably. While the pandemic continues to rage on, personal interactions are becoming more common as governments lift lockdowns and people edge towards a return to normalcy.
The return of personal interactions means a return to in-person communications, which means engaging in small talk. While some people are great at small talk and others struggle, the isolating effects of the pandemic have compromised most everyone’s ability to engage in it. In fact, many people seem to be finding in-person small talk awkward. Just Google “small talk” and the “pandemic” together and you can pull up plenty of recent articles about the pandemic-induced awkwardness of small talk. How about “We’re all socially awkward now” from The Washington Post, or “The Return of Awkward Small Talk” from Bustle, are just two examples.
Because our business revolves around communications, we thought it might be helpful to share a few refresher tips on how to (and how not to) engage in small talk.
Hi! How are you doing? Isn’t it a beautiful day? Here goes:
Small Talk Might Have to Start With You
Whether you’ve always been naturally shy, or the pandemic-induced isolation has you wary about talking with strangers and/or acquaintances, get over it. With months of social isolation pretty much impacting everyone, most people are fully open to making connections. So many people are feeling out of practice with the socializing dance that you might be surprised by how far you get with a simple “Hi! Isn’t it a beautiful day?”
Make Sure You Have Something to Say
While the weather might make a good icebreaker, make sure you can follow it up with something perhaps a bit more meaningful. That is, something that will spur the other person’s desire to respond. If you’re talking to a co-worker, for example, you could ask if they are enjoying the return to the office or if they felt that remote working was effective.
Speaking of Questions….
If you want to make your small talk more meaningful, make sure you ask questions because conversations primarily grow through questions and answers. Questions also take the onus of potential awkwardness off of yourself while potentially boosting the other person’s ego by giving them the floor.
When trying to engage in small talk remember that you’re trying to have a conversation not conduct an interrogation. Thus, give the other person time to fully respond, listen to what’s being said and, if warranted, keep things going with a decent follow-up question. Don’t try to steer the emerging conversation with a bunch of follow-up questions—share your own take on the question and try to steer the talk in a back and forth manner.
Steer Clear of Controversial Topics
Even though certain topics may be worthy of discussing or debating, when engaging in small talk with new people or those you barely know it’s probably not a good idea to jump right into any controversial topics. That is, anything that most people tend to have either a pro- or anti- stance about, such as guns, abortion, vaccines, the Green New Deal or anything related to religion or politics. Keep your small talk local, simple, and away from potential conflicts of ideals.
Don’t Waste Anyone’s Time
If you have initiated small talk stay with it and pay attention. Do not check your cell phone, look at the people over their shoulder or stare at the potted plant. Keep your eyes on your new (or renewed) acquaintance and your thoughts on what is being said.
Other Points to Keep in Mind
Don’t intrude upon other people’s vigorous conversations unless you can add to it smoothly without barging in and breaking it up. That is, wait for a lull and see if you can ease in with a pertinent comment.
When talking to people mind your personal distance. In the age of COVID most people’s personal space boundaries have grown, so you don’t want to get too close. That said, you don’t want to be so far away that you have to talk loudly or shout, as that might come across as overly aggressive.
Speak clearly with a moderate easy-to-follow pace and do not utilize personal slang, workplace jargon, or other words that people might not know.
And last, don’t approach small talk as if it’s a societal necessity that you’re forced to endure—remember that most of your meaningful non-familial relationships started with small talk.
Learn More About Communications with Moxxi Marketing
We trust that you have enjoyed our tips on engaging with small talk and can learn more about our communications expertise by contacting us today at 239.330.6236. Along with small talk, we can help boost your engagement with social media and online marketing.