Three Ways to Handle Small Talk … May 14th, 2015

   Jonathots Daily Blog

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small talk

People who think they’re good at small talk are probably doing all the talking.

Small talk is not big talk–it’s the ability to enjoy a conversation with someone, even if they’re a stranger, while filling the time that has been imposed upon you to be patient.

I am of the school of thought that every person I meet deserves a smile and a “good day.” Beyond that it’s up to me how deeply I want to engage with them.

But many people fail at small talk because they don’t know how to get in and how to get out. Here’s my approach:

1. What are you doing?

I do believe that every human being is anxious to share his or her heart’s desire, whether it’s the job, upcoming fishing trip or renovation on a kitchen. Their minds are ablaze with the endeavor and they are certainly willing to fill a paragraph or two to tell you of their passion.

But after this point the interchange will die if you don’t have a good follow-up:

2. Why are you doing it?

This question will probably surprise them–yet I will tell you, the motivation for pursuing their dream is very strong. They may become thoughtful and then give you a very deep and often personal answer. It creates some warmth and generates a “lotion of understanding” between the two of you.

And then, just when you think the embers of the fire are dying out, close with one final inquiry:

3. How’s it going?

In other words, how are you finding the whole process? Is it what you thought it was going to be? More work or more fun?

In offering these three questions to those who cross your path, you not only carry on great small talk, but you provide benefit by allowing them to clean out some clutter in their brain about what, why and how they do things.

Make sure when you finish that third question and they’re coming to the end of how they feel about their pursuit, that you excuse yourself. Tell them how much you enjoyed the time, and move on along.

I have just found that if you follow this simple formula, you will probably never meet anyone you can’t chat up. I have used it on a senator from Washington, D.C. and a gang-banger on the street … although some people would insist there’s not that much difference betwixt the two.

 

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