Are you one who is uncomfortable talking to strangers? Are you the one who as a rule in a restaurant chooses a seat facing the wall or are you the one who will usually sit in the front seat of a taxi- to avoid back seat conversations? In any official event if you do not find comfort with the known faces you are most likely to be brooding in a corner.
Well, you are not the only one to have this issue. This is our basic training from childhood, which forebode us from talking to strangers. Disciplined living was seen as silently obeying the orders and not raising any questions.
This ingrained coded behavior may be the one that is slowly but definitely harming your career prospects. Trust me small talk and free conversations can lead to a smarter, healthier, and happier life.
If we take the findings by researchers at University of Michigan researchers, then small talks with strangers or social conversations lead to enhanced problem-solving ability, lowered risk of heart attacks. As a side bonus, your travel and such engagement time become a lot more enjoyable, the good feelings last for hours. So, why wait.
Additionally, these talks can help you extend your network, which can result in expanding opportunities. As you surround yourself with mostly people from similar background and industry, it helps you extend beyond your comfort zone and induce new knowledge and fresh perspective. Talking allows you to get out of your pressing stressful ‘to do’ list and diverts your attention to the present moment.
For all, you know; it may lead to you finding the love and partner of your life- but that I suppose is not the main criteria.
Smart social small talk has three ingredients to it; invitation, breaking of ice and sustaining talk.
So to initiate- you need to scan the people around you and seek the most logical target. People who do not look stressed, smile and seek eye contacts are more willing to talk than the one sitting in the corner brooding or in the mid of an interesting conversation. Check people in front and back in the long lines at airport or the person sitting next to you on a non-red-eye flight.
You need to use a common harmless opening to find the common ground; weather, current non-controversial topic or even appreciation of the service.
See it from other person’s point of view. They may want to speak to you, so get that inviting smile on your face. In a restaurant or a lounge always chose the seat that faces people.
However, how do you sustain these conversations? The fact is that it is easier to listen and two the discussion finds its own flow. For you to participate actively, you need to listen attentively. Show others that you are really interested in listening to what they are sharing. You respect the time that they are investing with you in the conversation. Like they said- get the concept not necessarily the content- listen to the massage instead of thinking ahead your response.
Create your witty loaded elevator pitch, sprinkle that with stories, anecdotes that will create the hook to keep conversation going. Flip it; instead of talking- ask open-ended questions that need more than just a yes or no. Open up a bit more than you normally do. It works wonders for you but be cautious in how much you open up.
Appreciation brings smile and warms up the conversation. Positively comment on jokes and insights they share. Trust, just like you and me, people feel good about being liked.
Follow up with future possibilities. If everything is going right, do share visiting cards and coordinates. If you are more proactive and want to be sure, do share next meeting on a mutually beneficial subject. Do not pile up on the person. You want the stranger to now be a friend.
Reach out, and feel the difference a little small talk can make in your routine.
Sanjeev Kotnala with 28 years of corporate experience is the founder of Intradia World; a Brand, Marketing & Management Advisory. His focus area includes Ideation and Innovation; he also conducts specialized workshops like IDEAHarvest, Liberate and InNoWait. For soft skill training, he follows SHIFT (Specific High-Intensity Frequent training), a process of continuous training with frequent shorter sessions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org tweet @s_kotnala web: www.intradia.in www.sanjeevkotnala.com.