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Beyond Leadership

119 EpisodesProduced by Mark KalinWebsite

Beyond Leadership is a podcast that connects the business world with academia and provides a platform for entrepreneurs, leaders, managers, students, and everyone willing to learn and share their best practices and life stories about leadership. Going Beyond.Founder and owner: Mark Kalin

4:27

Tip of the Week 30 - Have We Forgotten How to Small Talk?

Are you feeling ill-prepared and nervous to make small talk when you get back to the office? If stopping for an impromptu hallway chat seems a little daunting, you're not alone. Returning to the office and socializing with people we haven’t seen in person for more than a year can feel scary. Many of us are socially rusty after a long pandemic year. The good news is you can rebuild your small-talk muscle with practice.

How to “Small Talk”

The virtual meetings we have grown accustomed to getting right down to business. There have been few if any, interstitial spaces on our work agendas to catch up. Our increased reliance on emails and private messages to communicate have only exacerbated the problem. Let’s revisit the basics.

Here are a few conversation starters. Try them out, tweak them so they feel authentic to you, and use whatever is most helpful.

  1. Cooking and baking. Many people discovered their inner chef during the pandemic. You might ask your coworker, “What are your new favorite meals?” or “What’s a simple recipe you discovered recently?”
  2. Hobbies. You might be curious about what your colleagues did with their time while not in the office. Try asking, “Did you rediscover any hobbies during quarantine?” or “What was your favorite thing you read/watched/listened to last year?”

3. Vacation plans. With travel restrictions lifting in many parts of the world, lots of us are starting to think about making up for lost vacation time. Ask your work buddies, “What are you looking forward to the most this year?” or “Where’s the first place you’ll travel when you’re able to?”

While this may seem difficult, reconnecting with colleagues is further evidence of our resilience - our ability to shift to match our circumstances. Conversely, you may also be saying hello to some coworkers who started while everyone was remote. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and share your role in the organization, then proceed with the topics listed above.

Do you like small talk?

Is your culture embracing small talk?


Samuels, R. (2021, July). Have We Forgotten How to Small Talk?. Harvard Business Review.

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