One’s ability to progress in his or her job and climb the corporate ladder in the U.S. is highly dependent on his or her ability to build and maintain positive relationships with people at work.
One of the most important skills for that is small talk, according to an article in Harvard Business Review, a general management magazine published by Harvard Business Publishing.
Friendly, social interaction can boost one’s ability to solve problems, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan.
“Small talk could be any generic conversations, like something about the weather, a TV show,” Plattsburgh State senior nursing major Emily Haibon said. “Just easy conversation. Nothing deep.”
Small talk can help to establish trust and lay the groundwork for specific requests, which is necessary in order to build a relationship, according to Berrett-Koehler, an independent publisher with the mission of connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all.
“For me, the purpose of small talk is to ease attention,” Haibon said. “[As a nursing major], I do that a lot with my patients because in clinical study, you don’t get to know them in deep level but you want to show you care about them but not necessarily try to be their best friends.”
She also said small talk can be an easy tool to break the ice between people because one can talk about anything.
“I’m very anxious around new people most of the time,” Haibon said. “So small talk helps. In clinical study, I have to initiate [conversations] already, so that works on both sides.”
Haibon finds small talk helpful when working with her patients because she wants to make sure they are OK. At the same time Haibon said she still has “to mind my own business.”
PSUC senior communications and public relations double major Sarah Mooney sees small talk as topics “that makes you feel good and are easy to talk about like where they are from, what they like.”
“Maybe try to find something in common without getting into any serious topics,” Mooney said. “When you try to build a relationship with someone or network, small talk makes getting to know someone really simple. I think small talk can lead to friendship and finding common interests and more conversations.”
Mooney loves small talk and sees no harm in it.
While small talk can appear to be easy and natural to some people, not everyone can do it without practice.
Eighty-five percent of jobs are filled through networking, according to an article in linkedin.com.
When it comes to networking, small talk is the key to start conversation and set the stage for impressing employers.
“I believe that not in just public relations and communications, but in all majors, you need to think about networking,” Mooney said. “Small talk can make networking work by finding new people and common interests.”
Email Hilly Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org