How to Replace Small Talk with Smart Conversation - American Society of Employers - Mary E. Corrado

Of Interest…

How to Replace Small Talk with Smart Conversation

We’ve all had to conduct small talk from time to time…casual conversations that revolve around unimportant matters.  But what if instead, we had smart conversations that led to building better relationships?

A recent article on reveals tips from Dale Carnegie on how to be the most interesting person in the room – not just one who engages in meaningless small talk.

In Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he suggests starting conversation with questions such as:

  • Where are you from?
  • Where have you been?
  • Where would you like to go?
  • What interests you?
  • What's your hidden talent?
  • What would you like to learn?

According to Carnegie, “When you try to understand why another person thinks and feels the way they do, they become naturally intrigued about you.” He says that for people to be interested in you, first, you must show them that you are interested in them.  Questions like these can lead to deeper conversations than typical small talk conversation starters.

By showing people that you are intrigued to learn more about their interests, they will be willing to share their thoughts and feelings with you and engage in conversation.

This concept holds true in the workplace as well. Gallup research has shown that employees who feel their manager is invested in them as people are also more likely to be engaged.

Good conversation starters to use with employees include:

  • What's going well in your role? Any wins this week?
  • What challenges are you facing?
  • How are you feeling?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how fulfilled are you?
  • How can I help you?

I utilize questions very similar to these in my one-on-one meetings with my direct reports.  It helps to guide a meaningful conversation when we meet.

How do you utilize conversation starters in the workplace or at networking events? Email me at [email protected].


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