The truth is I HATE small, small talk. But you can’t get to big talk with strangers without some form of this connection cocktail.
Strangers don’t grow into acquaintances, acquaintances don’t grow into connections, connections don’t grow into friends–without a bit of early light banter. I’m not advocating for talk that remains small. Nothing makes me more crazy than when a relationship gets stuck in the “talk about the weather” phase. Consider small talk as a light knock on the door of bigger possibilities.
Why Small Talk Stays Small
Urban Dictionary shares the following definitions of “small talk.”
“Useless and unnecessary conversation attempted to fill the silence in an awkward situation. Commonly backfires into feelings of loneliness and social discomfort.”
“When you come across that person you haven’t seen in a while, but you really have no close connection with them anyways. But you know… you don’t want to be rude and just walk right past them… so then it turns to a complete BSing session between you and this acquaintance.”
“The act of supplying a person with irrelevant information about oneself in an attempt to appear friendly and normal to a person one is meeting for the first time. This practice is particularly important to extroverts (people who take pleasure in spewing random bits of their life stories at anybody who will listen…)”
A Bigger Approach to Small Talk
In their book We Dare You: How Handshakes Can Change the World, Mattson, Williams, and Orendi share three practical categories for starting more meaningful conversations.
- How’s your day been so far?
- Do you understand this stuff?
- What’s the deal with that?
- Would it be okay if I complimented you on something?
- Could I get your opinion?
Fun Zone Questions
- What celebrity do you most want to punch in the face?
- What did you get in trouble for when you were a kid?
- What was your favorite musical group when you were in middle school?
- What was your worst date like? (oh boy, do I have a fun answer for this one ;-)
- What was your first job? Worst job?
Deep Zone Questions (to be used a bit further down the connection line)
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, What, you too? I thought I was the only one.” -C.S. Lewis
- What is the most vivid memory from your childhood?
- If you had to verbalize a slogan for your life what would that be?
- What is your crowning achievement at this point in your life?
- What’s the nicest thing someone ever said to you?
- What are you really about?
When we take a bigger approach to small talk, we open important pathways to future connection. I challenge you to go bigger with your small talk this week, and let us know how it goes.