Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Top 7 Communication Blogs To Start The Week

Here are the top 7 communication articles I found today on blogs around the internet. Check out these inspirational and educational blog posts.

1. A great post where communication consultant speak on How to communicate your credibility to generate business.

2. Ian’s Messy Desk has a good post about controlling your body language for effective communication.

3. Lindsey Pollak talks on Why Shy People Make Great Networkers in her cool blog. 

4. Learn boosting your self esteem with Emotional Freedom Techniques from the EFT Joy blog.

5. social skills for Children with ADD found in Adult ADD Strengths blog.

6. talks about school is good for building social skills.

7. Elliot Lee has an interesting post about Geek’s Social Skills.

5 Office Small Talk Tips For Career Success

People often dread small talk but it is what binds us together socially. Almost every day, either with people we know or with strangers, you will have to engage in some kind of small talk. It breaks the ice, leads people to gain their first impressions of us and even begins to build a relationship, if that is what you want to do. But what other uses are there for small talk?

Small talk is very useful at work; it helps you build up a rapport and a relationship with your colleagues which helps you to communicate better and so helps you to work more efficiently. Small talk used to be known as ‘passing the time of day’ but somewhere along the line that got a bad press and was translated into ‘wasting time’; but increasingly now with the demise of small talk, people are feeling isolated and lonely.

Bosses who discourage small talk have forgotten how small talk helps people to resolve problems and even prevent conflicts occurring. People who engage in small talk with each other feel more comfortable in sharing ideas and giving or receiving advice in order to resolve a situation which ultimately can surely only be good for business.

But how is small talk actually useful at work?

Hooking in to More Serious Matters:

People often feel awkward and self-conscious about broaching serious topics with another person, especially if that is someone they don’t know well, as may be the case in a work situation. Small talk can help to ease you into the subject.

If you are chatting informally with your colleagues or even your Chief Executive, you may start with basic, general questions and as they open up and the conversation becomes easier, then is the time to ask the serious question. You will find it a lot easier at that time as the topic may arise quite naturally out of the small talk.

Raise your Status:

You need to be careful with this use for small talk, so that you don’t use it to gossip, which can quickly turn negative on you and impact badly on how you are viewed by your co-workers and bosses; however, you can elevate your status by becoming seen as someone who can be trusted to talk to about work issues and problems.

It’s useful too, to arrive early for meetings and use that time for a little small talk. People will more readily recognise you and you may also be overheard by the chief executive or directors saying something useful or interesting on which they wish to chat further with you.

But how do you get small talk right at work?

1. The first rule is to not talk about yourself and your own achievements but to focus on others; this does not mean gossiping about people; as has already been said, that’s a very bad idea. Instead, recognize people’s achievements and don’t be afraid they will be stealing the limelight from you. Largely, bosses value team players who are ready to acknowledge other’s successes and learn from them, so use your small talk to show that you are one of these people.

2. Encourage other people to engage in small talk too. That is how you become known as a confidant and also, it is a way of sharing ideas and best practice which can benefit all of you. Make sure you don’t gossip and spread personal details from small talk to other people, though or you will quickly lose people’s trust.

3. Open up communications with small talk. Conferences and offices are great places to start your networking and this very often starts with small talk, which is where people get a real feel for what you’re like as a person and you can begin to work them out too. Don’t be pushy; let them ask you questions and do plenty of listening to them too.

4. Small talk should be neutral and not threatening. Once you have found some common ground between you, then you can start to express more of an opinion and perhaps be a little more controversial, when you know who you are talking to and how they are likely to react.

5. Use small talk to get to know different people within your organization, from the canteen staff to the chief executive; so for that reason, don’t remain at your desk all lunch-time; go out there and meet people. If your senior management is unreachable, perhaps their PA isn’t; if you make a good impression upon the PA, positive stories of you will filter back to the management team. You’d be surprised what you can find out and how empowering this sort of small talk can be.

Small talk makes your working day pass a lot quicker and more productively so start to look for opportunities to chat with colleagues and management; just make sure you get your work done too!

How to Make Small Talk with People

Small talk is often perceived as fake or shallow, but nevertheless one tends to be self-conscious if one doesn’t know how to make small talk with people. That’s because conversations, especially with people that you don’t know well, often start with small talk.

If people don’t know how to do it, they can spend their time in social situations standing on the sidelines not speaking and not being spoken to. That is a shame and just a few simple pointers on how to make small talk with people can increase your confidence greatly in social situations.

Small talk is no small matter; it’s actually quite a big deal in terms of how useful it is for bonding people socially; it a great way to get to know people. Being willing and able to use small talk actually tells the other person that you are interested in them.

In order to get anything back from the people that you talk to, though, you have to give something of yourself or otherwise it just feels to the other person as if they are being interrogated.

Listening to the answers they give is very important in order for them to feel valued and to want to continue speaking to you.

It’s a good idea to have a very brief introduction to yourself planned out in your head before you go somewhere where you might be called upon to speak to people that you do not know. Having that little piece of information planned out in your head and memorized will help you to feel more comfortable about the prospect of meeting new people and you will find you relax more, making small talk much easier.

Your introduction need not be long; in fact it shouldn’t be more than a couple of sentences. It is perfectly adequate to say ‘Hi, my name is…” then go on to simply state why you are at the social event; perhaps that might be something like ‘I’ve been friends with the hosts for a few years now’ or ‘I’m looking for a painting for my lounge room’. The person you are speaking to will probably reciprocate in the same way and you will have found your first piece of common ground because you will know why you are both there.

Again, listening to the answer is very important. That enables you to take cues from what they say to further the conversation. What you say does not need to be very smart or very funny; something which shows a little interest in the other person will work very well.  What you are trying to do is establish a connection with the other person and once you have connected, the conversation should flow more freely.

Remember that you should not fire a long list of questions at the person to whom you are speaking. That will unnerve them and bore them. If from one of their answers you find some common ground, something which you have a story about or some positive comment to make, tell them that rather than asking another question. They will relax and open up more as the conversation becomes more two-sided and reciprocal and so will you.

You can start your small talk with a comment about where you both are. That gives you some common ground already. You can talk about the venue or the event; the food or the facilities. Make your comments positive if you can, as this put people in the best frame of mind in which to reply to you.

Having something interesting to contribute will help when it comes to small talk, so keep up with the news and current affairs, what’s on at the cinema etc. If you’re going to a specific event do a little bit of research before hand so that you will have some things to say. You don’t have to be a world authority; in fact, that can be off-putting.

You just need to have a few things in your memory bank to say that you’re less likely to go blank and silent. So, when it comes to how to do small talk with people, practice a two sentence introduction to yourself and have three or a couple of simple questions you could ask then look around you and listen to people for further inspiration.