Mastering the art of ‘small talk’Sanjana Ray
We are all in a committed relationship – with our smartphones. Group conversations often begin with a line like ‘Oh did you see that video’, which is then followed by the viewing of the said video, only to lead to another related video. Before you know it, you’re spending hours poring over viral content together, with no actual conversational outflow.
This doesn’t stop at home. This obsession conversing through the many digital platforms we inhibit, peters out to our office-spaces as well. Our breaks are spent catching up on social media activity or talking to our special ones on the phone in the corner. We roll our eyes at the one person with no charge on their phone asking everyone to get off theirs.
But what about a real conversation – a face-to-face conversation, where you can see the play of expressions on the other person’s face in response to the things you are saying; where you can receive real feedback for what you’re saying, instead of receiving a well-calculated text reply that leaves you pondering?
This holds especially true for a slack-driven office, where employee morale is at an all-time low and the motivation to work is a fleeting concept. Co-workers have forgotten the art of relegating thought and idea to each other, outside the mandatory everyday shop lingo.
Some may say that this works fine with them, but we disagree. It is extremely important to master the art of in-person conversations in your slack-driven office, and here are a few steps telling you how to go about it.
You’d be surprised at how many ground-breaking ideas have come out of a simple conversation. Ask any startup co-founders, and they’ll tell you that the concept behind their company was thought up between a shared bottle of beer. It is important to keep up a stream of conversation with the people you work with, tossing ideas back and forth and next thing you know, you could be giving even Zuckerberg a run for his money!
Get your timing right
Don’t mistake a conversation for a one-sided rambling session. Know your audience and know the appropriate time to discussing something with them. For instance, it is common knowledge that people aren’t the most rational listeners or idea-takers when they have a dark cloud hanging over their shoulder. If you need to discuss an important matter with your boss and you see her reigning in the Monday morning blues, or on the phone with the seventh client through the day- tell her you have something to discuss with her as per convenience and then walk away. Come back when you think both sides are ready to do some brainstorming- and then start talking!
Credit where credit’s due
The words ‘thank you’ have become mechanical to us, typed out at the bottom of every work mail. But how many times have you actually gone out and thanked your colleague, supervisor or boss for helping you out with a project or a campaign? How many times have you thanked the lift-man and asked him about his story? Everyone likes being appreciated – it’s human nature. No one’s asking you to go all Bollywood and send them flowers and chocolates, but a simple acknowledgement for their efforts will go a long way in establishing yourself in their eyes and make for better professional relationships in the future.
Connecting beyond titles
You could be an intern or a senior executive, but try striking up a conversation with someone new in your office every day. Ask them about their day, whine about the workload, complain about the hours and connect, even if it means exchanging pleasantries about the weather for a couple of days. Form a bond with your co-workers, make them rely on you and before you know it, you’d have single-handedly lifted their energy and as a consequence, your esteem in their eyes. This equation is possibly the most important one, so don’t take it for granted. Happy co-workers = happy work life.
Try these tips and see yourself mastering the art of small talk!