Smalltalk is the easy talk about all things we have in common. The weather, house, family and so many other things. But this kind of of talk is also a barrier for people who stutter. (or for the sake of social construction; people who focus on the difficulties of speech instead of their smooth speech).
You say smalltalk but I’d rather shut up and read a book
Smalltalk is fast and superficial. It’s right here and right now. It’s about getting to know where we have common ground. Common ground is important because common ground means trust. And trust means that you and he are more of less the same.
Where you struggle with your speech the other person you’re talking to is waiting patiently for you to utter your words. So what should be fast, smooth and superficial become difficult, cluttered and a necessary evil.
It’s easier just to shut up and talk when it’s important.
We have to change this belief about only talking when it’s important. What is important? Contact and relations are important and that is what you gain access to with smalltalk.
In this article you’ll learn how to open up and create that contact.
Trust as the main point for smalltalk
Smalltalk is about contact; more specificly it’s about trust. It’s not what we talk about that’s important. It’s about how we relate that’s important. When we smalltalk we notice all the nonverbal behavior that reveal if the other want to talk with us. That raises questions as: Do I want to talk with this person? Does the other person want to talk with me?
The nonverbal behavior gives you away. It’s your eyes, the way you stand, the position of your legs, arms, torso. If you look the other in the eye, if you smile. It’s everything. And all this communicate if you trust the other person and if you want to talk with him/her.
Build trust to build common ground and use this common ground to ask for what you want.
But then I take advantage of people!
Using people as in taking advantage of them is only negative if we think so. Using someone as leverage to get where you want be is positive. It gets you somewhere. And now you owe another person a favor. You didn’t take advantage of the person you used to get where you want to be. What you did was to let them use their abilities and skills to help you. And by owing someone a favor you get to show off your skills. Which is great!
Smalltalk is about giving.
Everyone takes advantage of one another. That is wonderful. It’s great to have use of your skills for the greater good. Through our actions we show who we are, and that kind of action says more than words.
Though the words has to be spoken if you want to be where you want to be.
In this light smalltalk is about giving.
When you smalltalk you give a bit of yourself to another person. And that information you gave away is valuable for the relationship between the two of you. Now the other has information he can pass on, and when he does he helps you because he can connect you to a person who is valuable to you and your goals.
With smalltalk you leverage yourself.
The contact or let’s play a talking game
Smalltalk is about building trust.
Everyone wants to be safe. So when you ask: How was the traffic? It’s not about the traffic. It’s about contact and to give a little more than you receive so that you and partner always have more to build on.
Remember it’s not the topic that’s important. The important part is the nonverbal communciation. Can you really trust the other? If you can trust him then you can stabilize the relation and over time talk bigtalk. And bigtalk is where we want to go. You talk bigtalk when you have a stable relation and with stable relations everything is possible because you have a real connection.
I remember sitting in a taxi. You know, where you’re trapped with a stranger. What do you talk about? I talked about the weather. Then I started talking about Tesla’s as taxi’s. He instantly woke and was very active. Later on we also talked about the taxameter and how it worked. We had a great conversation. This was the second layer of the communication square and the third layer. We talked about something meaningful and also expressed viewpoints.
The taxi ride was too short and the relation too fragile to go further and talk about feelings and showing feelings.
Topics to show that you’re not a weirdo
You can’t just jump into how are you really feeling. Because it’s too heavy if you just met the other.
Topics to show that you’re not a weirdo are:
- The weather
- The place
- Current events*
*Tread lightly with current events if they involve politics. You want to agree or partly agree when you’re meeting people for the first time. That is difficult with politics.
Personal clearance – what’s your take on smalltalk
I used to not understand what the point of smalltalk was. So when people asked me, how are you? I wanted to have a genuine relation and so I said how I felt. Not a success. Now I understand that smalltalk is the way in to create friendship and build trust to get where I would like to me. It doesn’t apply to me only, it’s also works the other way around.
- What’s your challenge regarding smalltalk?
- What steps can you take today to be better at smalltalk?
- Which topics would you like to practice talking about?
Smalltalk is about going from small to bigtalk. It’s about taking small steps so that you can benefit from the big ones.
Smalltalk in essence
Smalltalk is superficial. It’s not about the content. What’s important is how we connect. Do we like eachother? Do we open up? You always have to give more than you receive. In this way the other has something to work with. And don’t feel bad if the connection isn’t right. Move on.
And it’s also a great idea to ask open questions (who, what, where etc.). Those kind of questions are like can openers. They reveal the content and over time they help create that connection you’re searching for.