Small talk can sometimes seem like an arduous process of merely filling the dead air with something, anything you can think of to keep the night moving forward, or to ward of the awkward, unyielding silence that seems to hover just above any human interaction. And yet, small talk is a necessary component of interpersonal communication in business and personal lives, used to “grease the wheels” of social interaction, to smooth out the inevitably rough edges of meeting people for the first time. It can be, with the right frame of mind, an enjoyable pastime all by itself.
In that spirit, here are seven fun small talk topics to talk about in every situation.
Though it may not seem like it at first blush, sports are actually a great topic to discuss in small talk situations because just about everyone has an opinion about it, good or bad. Something as simple as bringing up the local team and how they’re doing is usually enough to kick off a conversation even with those least interested in sports of any kind. And if you hate sports, well, feel free to talk about that to.
News is a funny thing. It’s always fresh, each and every single day, with plenty of ripe, juicy events and headlines leaping off the pages and into conversations all over the world. If you’re looking for something to talk about, keep a keen eye out for the news of the day to help get you started.
Travel is a great topic to talk about in business. Everybody who travels loves to talk about it, and everyone who doesn’t travel also loves to talk about, because they hope to very soon be traveling. This is not only a great way to kick off a small talk conversation, but it is a great way to share tips, anecdotes and horror stories for future reference.
This is a broad enough topic that just about everyone will be happy to discuss it and make good conversation. Bring up the jazz club that just opened or a great restaurant or the movie theater across town. Chances are most everyone would love to discuss it with you.
This is a great topic to talk about because people have fairly clear feelings about their family, for good or bad. Sharing the good stories or commiserating with the bad is a great way to fill a few minutes of small talk conversation. Introverts and extroverts are more than able to talk about their family making it a (hopefully) fun topic.
Talking about work can be a great way to network with colleagues or share the pain in a slumping economy. Even if the person is a workaholic, they’ll love to share their struggles with someone.
TV makes a great topic because everyone has one, and the few outliers (I’ve found to exist especially in business) that don’t are more than happy to talk about how much they hate TV.
Communication skills at the workplace are a prerequisite for all types of professions. Delivering your message in a clear and eloquent manner without prejudice is a sure harbinger of success at the workplace. There are several theories on the communication process that attempt to illustration how interpersonal communication occurs be it on a personal or professional level.
Improving Communication Skills at the Workplace
To improve your communication skills care should be taken when composing the message to be transmitted and when receiving the message delivered.
When transmitting a message the aim is to transmit a clear and unambiguous message. To achieve this aim always keep in mind the following pointers when composing a message:
– What is the purpose of the message?
– Who is going to receive the message?
– How is the message going to be transmitted?
– Is the message clear?
– Always ask for feedback.
Since the communication process is a two-way process the effectiveness of the message also relies on the receiver. When on the receiving end always ensure that you follow these recommended suggestions to ensure that you understand the full meaning of the message:
– Allow yourself to concentrate on the message received
– Do not be afraid to ask questions to ensure your understanding
– Always provide feedback
The problems that arise with communication in the workplace is that many a times not everyone in the organisation is informed of the message being transmitted. This barrier can be overcome if you carefully consider who needs to know the information when transmitting or receiving a message.
Written by Maureen Cutajar
The skills that you need for good interpersonal communication differ according to the situation in which you want to communicate.
Some people find it difficult to start or continue conversations even with friends; others will need to deliver seminars and get their points across on subjects an audience is unfamiliar with; others will need to organize and communicate within a large organization, to people both above and below them in the company hierarchy as well as fellow managers on their level. That is only a small selection of the different situations in which one might need interpersonal skills.
However, whatever the situation, interpersonal communication articles will all tell you that both listening and speaking are important.
Listening skills might include:
1. Giving the other person time to speak without butting in with whatever it is that you want to say. That way you will put them at ease and you ma well learn something;
2. if you don’t let them talk you have no chance to learn from them and you are then giving a lecture, not communicating.
3. Not finishing other people’s sentences. You’re not a mind reader and so it can be seen as rather rude to finish off other people’s sentences. Let them tell you themselves.
4. Really actively listening to the person’s words so that you understand the full meaning of what they are trying to say. If you are busy wit other tasks or the TV or some other distraction, you are not listening as well as you might.
5. Maintaining a comfortable level of eye contact to put the other person at ease.
6. Adapting your body language to demonstrate that you are listening and that you really understand what is being said; for instance, making sure that you are nodding and smiling in the right places and adopting an appropriate posture.
7. Concentrating full on the moment and picking up on the mood of the person who is speaking as well as the actual words they are using.
Those listening skills will really benefit you in all your interpersonal communications, no matter what the purpose or who you are trying to communicate with. Some speaking skills are generic too, and therefore useful in all communication:
1. Speak clearly so that your words can be understood. Quite often people will be too embarrassed to ask you to repeat yourself so you need to take the responsibility for being as clear as possible.
2. Use a vocabulary that can be understood by your listeners. Interpersonal communication is about being understood; it is not about showing off how wide your vocabulary is or how many long words you know.
3. Use an appropriate pace and volume. You can’t be heard, you can’t be understood or effectively communicate anything.
4. Make your call to action clear so that your listeners know what you want them to do.
5. Check people’s understanding. Don’t probe, but you could ask questions to check your audience’s understanding, or if you feel that your audience knows you well enough and will tell you if they don’t understand anything or have a question to ask, you could invite questions.
Although interpersonal communication articles can help you through all of these basic skills and more they are are no replacement for the real thing and what you need is practice, practice, practice and hopefully you will enjoy that.