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The Art of Small Talk

Frank Underwood, House of Cards,

Frank Underwood is the master of small talk (and coercion).

Small talk gets a bad reputation. To avoid this allegedly meaningless drivel, people skip networking events. Or, almost as bad, they attend, but talk to the three people they already know.

This is shortsighted, says Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk. “Small talk is the appetizer for any relationship,” she says, and people like to do business with those with whom they’ve established common ground. “A good networker is looking to foster relationships and build a community never knowing how that contact can help now or in the future. My motto is ‘every conversation is an opportunity for success.’” Here’s how to do small talk better:

1. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

While you can hope for the best, don’t expect too much from any given chat. If you come to cocktail hour hoping for nothing more than a good restaurant or book recommendation, you can relax and enjoy yourself, and be pleasantly surprised by anything else that happens. Relaxed people are, incidentally, more enjoyable for others to be around too.

2. HAVE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT.

“I never approach a meeting, an industry function, or a networking event without at least three things to talk about,” says Fine. “When is the worst time to come up with something to talk about? When you have nothing to talk about!” In particular, she practices a solid answer to “How are you?” or “How are things?” so she doesn’t respond with an “unhelpful one word answer” that forces a conversation partner to do much of the work.

Read the rest at Fast Company.

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This entry was posted on May 16, 2014 by in Career, Romance and tagged , , , , , , , .
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