Sometimes it is a casual conversation that lead us to moments of real connection.
Small talk may be seen as the “fluff” of conversation by many of us. Many times, it can feel artificial, unsubstantial and ultimately unsatisfying. You have probably said to yourself ‘I hate small talk’ at some point or another. But sometimes, small talk can be the gateway to real understanding.
The small talk questions we choose may be a struggle. An interesting one that many likely haven’t heard is “What’s the first movie you ever saw in a movie theater?” Sometimes a simple question like that may lead to an interesting conversation and even a connection.
Small talk isn’t just about exchanging idle nothings. It’s a way of creating bonds with people who may seem to not have all that much in common with you. Even a small conversation can help open you up to someone. For example, if you get to know someone just a little bit, it’s harder to feel negative about them even if you’re politically complete opposites.
Small talk may also be a gift of sharing
Most of the time when we ask someone ‘How are you doing?’ the answer we get is ‘Good.’ But are you even prepared for someone to respond saying ‘Not so good?’ If you did get that response, then you are faced with a choice. You could say that you have something to do and retreat or you could engage and ask, ‘Well, what’s the problem?’
Sometimes letting someone unload their problems may help you both feel better at the end of the conversation. Even if you don’t have the solution to the issue, just being there and listening can create a bond.
We can probably all improve our small talk questions and refrain from things like ‘Hey, isn’t that strange weather?’ But coming up with a few questions that you can keep in your back pocket for when the need arises can be helpful. Questions that elicit vivid memories or fervent opinions or what you’d be genuinely interested in finding out are always interesting and help get people talking.
But remember, small talk isn’t about simply listening to their answer and departing. You are there as an active participant and to receive it like the gift that it is, and respond with genuine enthusiasm. A good conversation can be like a game of catch. You wouldn’t interrupt the game to check your phone or look for someone more interesting. Commit yourself and follow the small talk wherever it may lead.