the elementary
who, what, where, when, why ?
do !
don't !
conversation starters
tips for starting and ending
skills for the everyday
examples of real situations
our method
what is small talk about ?

Conversational skills are very important in business and in life. Those who are at ease conversationally have the ability to "connect" with others which builds rapport and, eventually, relationships. Developing your skills at small talk can be an important step in your professional development and can actually help you get ahead.

Initiating small talk requires an opening line. Not the kind of "line" you might hear in a bar or nightclub, but one that sounds sincere and lets the other person know you're interested in talking with them. Don't open up with a complaint, make sure what you say has a positive spin. A genuine compliment about the other person can be an excellent opener. A comment about a current event can also break the ice, as well as a remark about the event you're at right now.

The real art in small talk comes in how you keep the conversation flowing. Good conversationalists don't monopolize the conversation, they orchestrate it. So ask a question of the other person and really listen to their response. Then elaborate on what they said with comments from your own personal experience and ask another question. Be sure your questions are open-ended and not the type which can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no". No one wants to feel like they're being grilled by a reporter, but your goal should always be this: Be more interested, than interesting.

Here are some subjects to avoid: your health, your sex life, gossip, off-color stories. The best topics for conversations are sports, books, theater, movies, food, museums and travel. Good conversationalists are people who keep up with the news and are actively involved in life. They read, have hobbies, take classes, try new restaurants and travel. If you've ever found yourself in a conversation where you didn't have anything interesting to say, it's time to get off the couch and try something new!

The final step in small talk is the ending. A subtle way to signal that you're ready to end the conversation is to break eye contact and look off in another direction. A transition word like "Well.." can also communicate that it's time to stop. If you've truly enjoyed talking with the other person, tell them so. "I've really enjoyed talking with you. I hope we have the chance to talk again soon." Leave a positive final impression with a smile and strong handshake.

Small talk may seem insignificant, but you can gather a lot of helpful information when you talk casually with someone. Start a "mental rolodex" and store the important tidbits you learn about others. When you see them again at a social gathering or in the elevator at work, you can inquire about their children or a recent trip and make another positive impression. Intelligence, ambition and expertise will only get you so far. Charm may be the one quality that gets you the job and promotion.


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a project by Jasmina Llobet and Luis Fernández Pons