Recently, a woman approached me at an event where I was a guest speaker. She was kind to compliment me on a job well done following my keynote etiquette presentation, but used her compliment as a way to bait and hook me into listening to her well-rehearsed 30 second elevator sales pitch. Right then and there, I had just been handed another good topic for the etiquette conversation, Small Talk Etiquette.
Small talk, sometimes known as “chit chat” is one of my favorite socials skills. It is what takes us from stranger to friend, date to spouse, nervous sales pitch to closing a new account.
It has also been my experience that “let’s get to know each other” – the reason for small talk – is a useful cornerstone for building business relationships. A 30 second elevator pitch won’t seal the deal, and frankly, going in for the kill is old-school. Isn’t that a relief?
Some people despise or fear small talk while others thrive on it. Personally, I have my good days and bad days communicating with the new people I get to meet. I am a chatter box; therefore, I have to work on zipping my lips and listening more intently. How do I listen more intently? I latch on to really good social skills recommendations! Here are steadfast guidelines that make this small talk thing easier.
1. Meet and greet people: Stand up (if possible) to meet people. Look them in the eyes, shake hands and say your name and repeat their name. “Hi, Hello, My name is, Nice to meet you” are proper pleasantries. Pleasantries in return are a must. It is a huge pet-peeve of mine when people don’t exchange pleasantries.
2. Kick-start a conversation by asking questions:
– Jane, what do you do for work?
– Jane, this is my first time attending this event. I’m having a blast! What do you think of the event?
– Jane, I am new here and I would really like to get acquainted with other people. Do you mind if I tag along with you for a bit in order to meet new individuals?
*Try not to linger too long. Jane needs her time too.
3. Be sure to ask questions in return. One-sided conversations are dull. Don’t be dull.
4. If you think, “I just don’t know how to do this,” practice! Try practicing small talk with store clerks, taxicab drivers, etc. I once heard someone say, “Practice makes permanent”.
5. Find out what interests the person to whom you are speaking to. Also, it is okay to talk about the news of the day. Avoid politics; however, this would be impossible if you were attending a political event, right?
Keep in mind, not every new person we meet will converse back with us. Please don’t take it personally; instead, move on to somebody that will gladly want to get to know you. And, as always, treat others the way you’d like to be treated.
Feel free to add your conversational small talk etiquette tips in the comment section below and let’s help as many people as possible make their best connections yet!
© Tiffany Nielsen 2013. All Rights Reserved