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Small Talk in the Office

December 11th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized




How am I going to leave a lasting impression at my new job? That is a question everyone should be asking themselves when they get a new job. The answer to that is simple, networking! Having everyone at your job simply know your name can do wonders for your career. When you walk into the kitchen for a cup of coffee your CEO might be reading the newspaper in there. That is an example of the most powerful type of networking, networking up. This is a big step in your career so you should approach the CEO politely; chances are they are very nice as well. You should not allow a few minutes of small talk scare you away from a life changing experience. Those few minutes can shape your career into many years of success. Small talk can be a means of promotion that everyone should practice in the workplace.

Personally, small talk has gotten me very far into my internship at a law firm. When I first began interning in ninth grade I would not talk much in the office and I was very nervous anytime my boss or any directors came around. I was too nervous to ask for more opportunities and even for help. But then, I started opening up and began learning more about my co-workers. Instead of asking about someone’s weekend I would ask how their vacation went or how their new grandson is doing. Simple things like this helped me get more hours and more things to do. I was able to gain the trust of my bosses and they referred me to people they know needed some help if I needed another job. Coming out of my comfort zone and speaking to the people at my job benefited me greatly and opened the door to many opportunities.

Networking is a crucial ingredient in the recipe to success. If you do not network you can stay in the same position for a long time because no one in the work force knows anything about you. Networking can be as simple as a daily smile and “good morning.” “Opportunity can strike anytime, anywhere” (Clark).  Networking is so easy because it should come off natural, it can happen when you are least expecting it. It should not be something you try to plan out or stress over, when it happens naturally the real you comes out. The real professional you is the one you want your boss to meet because you might have something in common and you can bond over things like that.

Although, while you are engaging in small talk you begin bonding with your co-workers you need to remind yourself the goal is not to make friends but to build your career. “Never waste time networking with your own kind… You should be networking up” (Ehrenreich). Your goal is for your boss to remember who you are if a promotion is ever available or if someone asks them for a referral. Small talk is a career choice you cannot ignore if you want to become successful. Talking to the higher ups at your workplace can also be a learning experience. Seeing how they make decisions and interact with others can be a source of wisdom for you if you want to be at their level.

Confidence is a key part of small talk. No CEO would want someone that mumbles and is nervous to speak in front of others to take over for them. This is why some people don’t participate in small talk, because of their nerves. People, especially kids of our generation, are really caught up on things being awkward, and the person might ignore them or be rude. If they think something will put them in an awkward predicament they will avoid it at all costs, without weighing the pros and cons. “There’s nothing small about the role that small talk plays in American professional culture” (Molinsky). Small talk is so important in building our careers that the two minutes you stumble trying to find an interesting topic to bring up should be overlooked. Looking someone in the eye and asking about their weekend should never scare you away from a job offer.

Good small talk consists of a couple simple rules. Due to it being a hard thing for some people to do there are guidelines to help those that struggle with it.             The basic “How’s your week going?” and questions about the weather might be clichés but they are truly great conversation starters. You should never talk to someone about yourself for four minutes straight. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Clark). It is important to know just as much about whom you are talking to as you want them to learn about you. You should also remember to keep it short because you want to network and make sure you are getting around to as many people as possible. Bad small talk would be discussing inappropriate topics and being unprofessional. You are supposed to go into networking with the same state of mind as if you were going to a job interview. Your goal in these situations is to try to “sell yourself” and leave a great first impression with whoever you are talking to (Ehrenreich).  It should be very simple once you get the hang of it.

Although after a lot of practice small talk seems simple but it can be really hard for some people. You do not have to be outgoing to begin a conversation, it is the most fun when both parties are engaged. You should never try to talk about yourself too much and leave without letting the other person get a word in. Some people tend to do this due to nerves and not wanting to leave any awkward silences. Small talk occurs mainly in the work place but the rules should follow you wherever you go.

Everyone knows that small talk comes off a bit fake but just remember your goal and shake off that energy. “You aren’t meeting people because you want to make friends or find allies but because you want something from them” (Ehrenreich). You want to be memorable in a positive way. You need to be someone the person you are networking to is willing to risk their name for and respect. You should not just choose one person and stick with them but move around and talk to new people. Everyone knows what you are trying to accomplish you should not feel weird about having small talk with others. Everyone had to start somewhere and small talk led most of them up the ladder and into the place they are now.

Hopefully, you have a clear understanding of how beneficial small talk can be to someone new in the office. Through networking and small talk you can quickly make sure it is known how vital you can be in the office. You are able to make sure you will not be overlooked for a position because higher ups at your job will know who you are. It is best to only think of how far small talk can take you in your career and not on how awkward your first approach can be. Remember that you are not trying to make a best friend but you are trying to gain the respect of your bosses. Now, you should be able to approach your superiors at work and start a friendly conversation.




Works Cited

Ehrenreich, Barbara. “Down, but Not Out.” Forbes May 07 2007: 112-4. ProQuest. Web. 20 Nov. 2015 .

Clark, Thomas. “Networking: A Key To Career Communication And Management Consulting Success.”Business Communication Quarterly 72.3 (2009): 344-348. Business Source Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Molinsky, Andy. “The Big Challenge of American Small Talk.” Harvard Business 
Review. Harvard Business Review, 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.




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