How to Turn Small Talk into Smart Conversation

I recently came across this post from everyone’s favorite idea factory, TED, and found it so useful that’s it’s definitely worth a share.

Every day, we find ourselves in situations that demand small talk. Just today, I found myself meeting the director of a well-known national charity, a cameraman for our ABC affiliate as well as a client that I had never met in person.

And of course, If you are familiar with our agency, you know that we have one of the slowest elevators in the known universe – the PERFECT conduit for small talk.

But how do you turn that small talk into smart conversation? That’s where  journalist Chris Colin and commedian Rob Baedeker come in, providing easily adoptable solutions to the everyday doldrum of small talk. The main pilar of their theory involves actively asking for stories, instead of answers.

So, instead of “How was your day?”, it’s as easy as asking “What did you do today?”

See, isn’t that easy?

Instead of “What line of work are you in?”, ask “How’d you end up in your line of work?”

This replaces an easy answer like “public relations” with the infinitely more exciting, “by way of a job working as the PR coordinator at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah.”

To become a true conversationalist yourself, consider purchasing their full book: “What to Talk About: On a Plane, at a Cocktail Party, in a Tiny Elevator with Your Boss’s Boss by Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker (Chronicle Books).

Written by: Molly Ishkanian

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