11 MIN READ
How to Make Small Talk
Making Connections and Creating Opportunity
What does the phrase "small talk" mean to you? Maybe you think of it as a "starter" to enjoy before the main business of a discussion. Perhaps it brings to mind throwaway chats about the weather at the coffee machine, or in the office elevator, on a Monday morning. Or perhaps you have a horror of it, and see it as difficult, artificial or trivial?
Small talk comes easily to some people. They never seem short of things to say and can strike up a conversation in almost any situation. For other people, though, making small talk is something that eludes them. They can be in a room with people they are keen to speak to, but the words just refuse to come out.
If you struggle to make small talk, don't worry – it's a skill that you can learn. In this article, we explore how you can make small talk, and how it can benefit you at work and in your social life. We also look at how to avoid some conversational pitfalls.
What Is Small Talk?
Polish anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski was the first person to study small talk, back in 1923. He described it as "purposeless expressions of preference or aversion, accounts of irrelevant happenings, [and] comments on what is perfectly obvious." In other words, speaking for the sake of being sociable, rather than to communicate information....