Networking

5 Tips to Master Small Talk at the Office (+ Examples)

Master Small Talk at the Office

Dread making small talk? You’re not alone. It can be tricky and overwhelming to start an initial conversation that can be lighthearted but meaningful at the same time.

Even more stressful if you’re an introvert and don’t know what to say at the water cooler when your colleague arrives.

However, learning to master small talk at the office does not have to be stressful.

With practice, you will become more comfortable starting conversations with anyone and increase your confidence in networking.

Whether it’s your boss, colleague, or client, finding a way to bond will deepen the relationship with your coworkers and help you go further in your career than you realize.

Here are some tips to master small talk at your office.

How to Master Small Talk at the Office

1. Practice conversation starters

If you’re nervous about starting a conversation with a stranger, it always helps if you have a couple topics in your back pocket ready for when those moments occur.

Think of any ice-breaker questions that you were asked in the past, pay a compliment, or provide a short introduction about yourself.

This initial effort can make it easier to break any tension of figuring out what to say and ease into other topics that may come up during the conversation.

How It’s Done:

Do you have any recent travel excursions coming up?” “I really like your shoes. Where did you get them from?”

“Hi, I’m Cathy. I’m new to the department and I work in marketing.”

2. Find something in common

It is easier to bond with someone when you have something in common.

For example, your colleague may also have similar hobbies as you or they may also have kids.

Mentioning that you are training for an upcoming marathon or preparing your kids for after school activities can engage your coworker into the conversation since they share those similar aspects with you.

How It’s Done:

“I noticed you had a marathon sticker on your desk. I’m training for a similar marathon next month. Do you have any tips to share?”

“I realized your daughter is in the same Girl Scout troop as my daughter. How does she like it so far?”

3. Ask open-ended questions

You want a conversation to keep flowing so asking questions that result in yes/no answers will make it difficult for a discussion to stay interesting.

Instead, ask open-ended questions that will let your coworker elaborate more about themselves and delve deep into their responses which will keep the conversation flowing and dynamic.

How It’s Done:

“How did you get into your field of work?”

“What bands/performers do you listen to and why do you like them?”

4. Use your current environment

If you run out of things to say or want to move the focus away from talking about yourself, look around and mention something about the environment around you.

These could be comments about the architecture, any unusual sounds in the vicinity, or food in the conference room.

How It’s Done:

“Did you notice when the new posters were put up in the hallway? The artwork looks beautiful.”

“The desserts in the kitchen look delicious. Did you get a chance to try some of it?”

5. Be present and listen

Finally, it’s important to be present in the conversation and listen to what your colleague has to say.

By paying attention, you can paraphrase what they said or clarify on a comment. This will allow you to engage genuinely and be authentic with others.

How It’s Done:

“Congratulations on getting married! So, you’re planning on having a honeymoon in Europe?”

“I had no idea you were so close to closing on a house! Will you be closer to the office?”

Mastering Small Talk at the Office

Learning the art of small talk can be daunting but by doing so, you will be able to find common ground with your peers and build powerful connections wherever you go. Next time you’re at the water cooler, use our tips to bond with your colleagues and grow a connection.

To help you get started, head over to our Free Career Center and download our Networking Email templates!

The guide will give you ideas for conversation starters and help you master small talk.

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Over to You

How have you improved your skills in small talk? Head over to our social @netwerkmovement and comment your thoughts and let us know how it’s been going.

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Your First Line of Defense Against Underemployment

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About Sarah Hasnain

Sarah is a writer for Netwerk® who is motivated to empower women with inspiring content. She has been passionate about writing and reading ever since she could get her hands on a book and enjoys sharing that excitement with her readers. Connect with Sarah on Instagram!

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