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Manage the small talk

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Steering the conversation > Manage the small talk

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Many conversations start with small talk, which can help to relax the other person whist also starting to build trust. 

You can use small talk to gain useful information about the other person and their context. If you in sales, ask about how business is going, what sales they are making, who their customers are, who their competitors are and so on. It can also be useful to know more about the person and what makes them tick.

Where you can, show that you have similar interests to the other person or you have some other things in common.

Reveal things about yourself only slowly, using progressive disclosure.

Manage the small talk by the questions you ask and the attention you give. Interrupt as appropriate to grab back control of the conversation. Do this in as friendly a way as possible.

Example

How are things now? I hear business is flattening off.

So what are you going to do at the weekend?

How about that! I drive a BMW Z3 too. Aren't they beautiful cars?

Discussion

Some people love small talk, and will fritter away the conversation on minor distractions. This may be acceptable in social settings, but in professional situations it can be very frustrating.

The amount of such chatter you should allow will vary with the context. For example in a sales situation you may have very limited time and the person buying may not be interested in fake chatter.

See also

Interrupting, Similarity principle, Progressive disclosure

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