Thursday, October 6, 2016

"Don't Overlook The Importance Of Small Talk"

No salesperson just walks up to a customer and asks them to buy without any pretext or foundation. It just isn't done, it doesn't make sense, and it largely wouldn't work.

We speak of the art of conversation because it is just that. There is little science. Talking is certainly mechanical - the physical part of it - but there needs to be something coming out of our mouths except a string of words. This is the art part - thinking of what to say, timing it to someone else's comments, adding emphasis or emotion, and being an interesting conversationalist.


Let's back up for a minute. We talked about making sales, but before that ever happens we have to meet people and establish some type of foundation or common ground. Not every connection will go any further than just a pleasant hello and some small talk. Some will progress to learning more about that other person and setting a time to speak or interact again.

Notice the mention of small talk. What is this?

Simply said, small talk is light conversation, not necessarily with any purpose, point, or agenda except just to engage the person we are speaking with at the moment. Topics such as the sports or the weather - especially how hot or cold it is, the rain or snow, the pleasantness of the temperature, the pretty conditions, the changing seasons, and how it makes us feel are all reasonable topics. Not everyone is a sports fan, so be prepared to move off that topic and pursue something else.

Recent TV programs, movies, best-sellers, and trending topics are good and easy to discuss.

When someone is wearing a tee-shirt, hat, jacket, or other clothing item that displays the name or logo of a sports team, college, or local school, this is a great conversation starter. People love to talk about their team, their school, or their children who are attending there.

There are so many topics that we can mention – very lightly with no expectation of trying to persuade someone to change their mind – including the price of gas, how quickly the days are passing, the upcoming holidays (there’s always a holiday coming), where they are going or went on vacation, a good restaurant in the area, and more.

Not sure where to start? How about beginning with a smile? This is a great way to make an introduction with someone. When someone returns our offered smile or says something in response to our non-verbal greeting, we can then begin some small talk.

Remember that the purpose of small talk is just to engage the other person. Maybe they will talk about themselves. Maybe they will just share pleasant conversation. This is not the time to be concerned about offering a business card or pushing for a business moment. That may come, but give it a little time.

As the small talk progresses, the conversation may turn to what we do and what they do - also hobbies. This is when we can begin building a foundation for a deeper business discussion if we feel that this is appropriate. Sometimes the conversation will go in that direction, and sometimes it won't. That's not the point.
  
We just want to be open to talking with people around us to see where the conversation will go. It might be nothing more than just some pleasant words exchanged. It could be more. It could lead to another conversation. It all begins with the small talk.

____________ 

Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certifieared Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.