All of us have run into those who trap us in torturous small talk. Remember that trip on a plane, train or bus? Using small talk well though can make work and life more enjoyable.
Small Talk Impacts Lives and Careers
In college, I took a train from Washington to New York. I had forgotten my watch so asked the woman next to me the time. That led to small talk and ended with an open invite from her and her husband to visit them in Baltimore. They helped make my college summer in Washington memorable.
It also taught me to be open to such events. Yes, some aren’t pleasant. Many are though. One time a brief, stern retort by an unknown woman in line at a driver’s license bureau turned into small talk. We got married a year later. I fondly remember that conversation every day now.
Later, small talk introduced me to co-workers in other departments. They helped my success. Some became life-long friends. In a restaurant, it also introduced me to one of the largest business opportunities of my career.
Why Small Talk Makes Things Better
Overwhelming research shows relationships are key to happiness. Even introverts suffer mental illness in solitary confinement. Small talk is a great introduction to more meaningful conversations. It’s like the warm up of a dancer, actor or athlete before the main event.
Research also shows that using small talk can make impersonal, routine tasks more enjoyable. Even getting a cup of coffee at the local shop can be so. Small talk can even turn these simple tasks into life changing events.
Small talk often introduces us to new experiences. This is an emotional need for many of us. Advertisers know it. “New and improve,” “latest technology,” and “amazing vacations” are just some of the phrases they use to trigger it in us.
Becoming Better At Using Small Talk
Using small talk better begins with questions. Most people like to talk about themselves. Heck, some studies show close to two thirds of Americans are extroverts. Getting them to talk is easy.
So, next time someone engages you in small talk, be open to it. Help out. It doesn’t matter who starts. Both benefit. Moreover, becoming good at using small talk can help put your stamp on the experience. Besides, who knows? It might just change your life. It did for me.