The Art of Small Talk

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As the New Year rolls in, there are changes all around us. One thing that has not changed is the proper etiquette for office small talk. If you’re on a hybrid schedule or fully remote where the team only gets together periodically – here are a few tips on how to avoid those awkward in-person moments so you can be your best self and shine! 

Small talk is hard enough when everyone is in the office on the daily. Start to take away the continuity of everyday interactions, and it becomes increasingly awkward for those naturally introverted to engage in conversation with coworkers. Yet, small talk fills an important void. It helps things go smoothly and is the foundation of an in-office atmosphere. Here are ten tips to make engaging in small talk easier, so you can be at ease at your next office gathering.  

Fill that awkward silence and increase your likeability with these tips!

  • “I think you would find this interesting.” Proceed to discuss something you know the person is interested in. This may take some observational sleuthing. Master salespeople know that the best way to keep someone’s attention is to tell them something that serves their interests. By prefacing your remark with this statement, people will likely actively listen to what you say.
  • “Can I ask a favor?” This technique is known as the Ben Franklin Effect. A phenomenon Benjamin Franklin perfected nearly 200 years ago. It’s a very subtle way of letting someone know you think they have more intelligence, knowledge, or skill than you. This builds rapport and may increase your likeability because you are paying them a compliment, giving them the opportunity to flex their ego.
  • “Can I be honest here?” – Honesty may be the best policy, but did you know that when you’re direct and honest with others, it’s viewed as a compliment? It shows them that you think they can handle whatever it is that you may say.
  • “Can I get your opinion on this?” – This would require a bit of aforethought. You would need to have something to ask that requires an opinion. It’s a great way to initiate small talk since it makes the speaker feel good about themselves. It gives them the feeling that you believe their opinion matters, something everyone enjoys.
  • “You’re welcome!” – This statement is so much more impactful than its counterpart, ‘no problem.’ These two words are a form of appreciation for something that had a positive impact.
  • “My pleasure!” – An alternative to the above, you’re welcome; this makes the other person feel that what was done was positively impactful.
  • “I have just a moment, but I [insert something positive]” – This lets the person know they are important enough in your world that you took the time to either stop by and say hello or hear their opinion on a particular subject. The best part of this is that it’s self-defining in length, so if things get awkward, just glance at your watch and say, you have to return to what you were doing.
  • “You may not know this, but [insert a compliment]” – This small but mighty phrase will surely win you likeability, if not friends. You’re letting the person you’re talking to know that they are the subject of the conversation. Adding the word ‘but’ at the end implies you’re going to say something that contradicts a belief. For example, “You may not know this, but I think the way you spoke at the seminar was powerful.”
  • “I took your advice, thanks!” – This is the grand slam of small-talk openers. It shows the other person that you pay attention when they speak and that you value their opinion enough to take their advice. The ‘thanks’ implies you were happy with the outcome.
  • “Can you tell me a bit more about that…” – Most people, no matter how outspoken they are, don’t enjoy small talk. This phrase is an invitation to continue talking. It lets the other person know that you are interested in what they say and value their opinion, and want to hear more of it.

Whether you’re in the office every day, working remotely, or enjoying a hybrid work model, when you get together with your coworkers, arm yourself with these one-liners to make casual interactions with colleagues less stressful. Small talk can happen at the water cooler, the coffee machine, or in meeting rooms if you’re working in a virtual office. At Opus Virtual Offices, we understand the importance of having your team get together. Whether it be for brainstorming sessions, strategy meetings, or just co-working for the day. At Opus VO, we ensure every meeting room is set up to handle your needs. Give us a call, and let’s get you set up with a virtual office.