I have a confession. I ask you to please not judge me. By admission I am not the most comfortable making small talk with strangers. You know the kind of conversation you have with a total stranger in the elevator when you are waiting to get off at your floor. Yeah, that conversation. The irony is I’m more comfortable performing or speaking on a stage in front of thousands of people than I am speaking with a random stranger one on one. I actually get quite a rush out of performing for large audiences. It is the more personable interactions that I find more difficult. It’s something I constantly try to work on.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a very cordial person. It is how I was raised. I was taught to speak to people in passing and smile when you interact with others. Being from the south, I guess it’s just southern hospitality. The encounters I’m referring to are the sincere interactions where you can possibly make a real connection with a total stranger by simply listening and responding accordingly. Even when the conversation is of nothing of grave importance. Though they are often overlooked, or avoided all together, these are the moments that can really have an impact on someone’s life, as well as yours. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about small talk:
In spite of seeming to have little useful purpose, small talk is a bonding ritual and a strategy for managing interpersonal distance. It serves many functions in helping to define the relationships between friends, work colleagues, and new acquaintances.
It is through small talk that trust can be built quickly, boundaries can be established, and lasting acquaintances can begin to develop. All of which can be invaluable assets to entrepreneurs or business owners, as well as individuals seeking to build a resourceful network. You have to be able to sell yourself before you can sell anything to anyone. You’ve heard the saying “people don’t by products or services; people by people”. It’s true. Having small talk, or not having small talk, can quickly mold others perspective of you.
Learning how to utilize small talk to create positive, lasting impressions can go a long way in furthering personal and professional success. I have a friend who is great small talk. I mean, he will talk to anybody about most anything. This guy never meets a stranger. While he exerts, what I consider, a good bit of time and energy to his daily interactions, his rate of return on opportunity far outweighs the time and energy he spends. He has realized that the more involved he is in the world he lives in, the more the world of opportunity opens up for him. You never know who you may be in the presence of, and a short, positive conversation can turn into a long-term asset.
Take advantage of opportunities to engage with others in a sincere manner. Not only does it give you the chance to meet valuable people to add to your network, but it also allows you to sharpen your listening and speaking skills. At the very least you may just makes someone’s day, which in turn could change someone’s life. Maybe even yours. Make small talk a big deal. Swank is the lifestyle.
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