Real Talk About Small Talk 


Small Talk. If you don’t like it, you’re not alone. In fact, 92% of Americans say they feel uncomfortable during “small talk” conversations and try to avoid them. Just kidding, I made that statistic up but it’s believable, right? I have never met a single person who says they enjoy small talk and try to avoid networking and other situations that require it. 

Why? Because it is artificial. From the moment it begins, signature small talk feels like it puts a boundary and limitation around the potential of the conversation. People who like to communicate feel limited and unnatural and people who don’t like to communicate by nature feel forced and awkward.

 

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Ick! Boring, awkward and often pointless since it usually ends with no deeper connection and both parties departing feeling indifferent. Small talk is just the only way most of us learned how to connect with others around us. It was the only way we learned to “break the ice.”
But the truth is, we have been silently guided by our society to never go “too deep too soon” or be obvious in our quest to connect with the community around us. Because “Hi, I feel like talking to you right now,” “I need more friends,” or “Hello, you look nice and I long for human interaction” would come across as overly needy and flat out strange.
So what can we do? Lets use our awareness on this issue and activate our communication skills to turn the dreaded small talk into small acts of kindness.
Lets think about this for a moment. What is the goal? If the goal is to connect, to begin something new or just to pass the time together in a more positive and less awkward way, why not use that time to make each other feel better and happier?
People communicate to make connections with other people. To feel good. Feel Important. Needed. Noticed.
Next time, try to ditch the small talk and use one of these ideas below. Notice how you feel. Does the person react differently to you? Does the conversation elevate? Do you feel better or worse? Was it more or less comfortable?
As with anything new, practice is important. So play around with this and try it often. After some initial adjustments, you will find yourself feeling more confident and comfortable in any surrounding, sans small talk!

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 A genuine compliment is so easy to give and yet we rarely do it. It makes other people feel amazing just hearing a few nice words, especially when they least expect it. You can compliment someone on their looks or something they have. But you can also compliment someone on how they behave.

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Now as a caution, this can backfire if your compliments are not appropriate for your environment. Complimenting someone is not the same as flirtation.
The goal is to make someone else feel good, not uncomfortable.

 
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 People like to feel needed, helpful and appreciated. While sometimes you really need to ask someone a question, this can also be a communication method to help break the ice.
Also, many people enjoy talking about themselves, so asking them a question or follow-up question and practicing your listening skills is a great way to come off as an expert communicator.

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If you don’t know what questions to ask, you can always work on generic follow-up questions that help open up a conversation deeper. The goal is to ask something that is open-ended and makes the other person engage a bit more.
The key with this is knowing when to stop. Asking too many questions can make people shy away or close up. Asking one or two open-ended questions that make people feel interesting and valued is perfect.
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Hold a door open, hand someone them a straw or a napkin. Let someone running late or with children cut in line ahead of you while in a long line. Small random acts of kindness are rare these days and really makes you stand out as a good, generous and kind person — with almost no effort.
Plus, you never know who you might bump into or connect with. Offering something simple to another person could open the door to a business card, new dream job or relationship!
Again, appropriateness is key. Offer to hold the door open at the store or coffee shop, not their apartment.
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 Non verbal communication is 90% of what you communicate to others. It is amazing how often we skip an opportunity to connect with other people around us.
We keep our heads down, don’t smile or connect with eye contact. Some of this is a learned behavior to stay safe from strangers when vulnerable, but it was not intended to be the norm. Mobile and electronic devices contribute heavily to this issue, but it’s also just become a bad habit. But more important to be aware of, it may be that you keep from making eye contact and smiling at others because you don’t want to be seen. Because you fear being noticed or, circling back to the initial topic, dislike small talk and awkward beginnings.

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Just try it again. Smile. Light up your face. Connect with eye contact and confidently say “Hi” or “Hello, have a great day!” You will be surprised how good it feels to do this and how positively others respond to it and to you. Because fundamentally, people do crave connections and communication more deeply than they realize.
Today, many signals get mixed up. Social media provides an artificial social scene providing attention, but minimal connection. Someone who may be craving a feeling connection and validation may instead seek a new relationship or sexual experience, when all they really needed was a compliment or to be noticed.
Just as we can mistake thirst for hunger, we can confuse our very normal inner desire to connect with others as loneliness or isolation. Affirm today that you want to contribute to a better community and work on turning boring small talk into small acts of kindness to make someone’s day!

By Katya Juliet Buzzword Consulting

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Colorful Communication: Extending Your Emotional Vocabulary

By Katya Juliet

Last week I shared an introduction on neuroplasticity and how it relates to communication based off the work of Dr. Shad Hemstetter. Today, I wanted to follow-up with something semi-related: why words have the ability to change, help or hurt us so deeply.

You know how the saying goes:

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Unfortunately, this is not the case and words we both say and hear can be extremely powerful triggers of emotion that can either help or hurt us in a single moment and repeatedly over time.

Words have been learned and wired in our brain and designed to trigger both emotions and previous experiences. When we hear a certain word or feedback that feels critical or hurtful, our brains reference from knowledge about that word as well as any past experiences we may have had with those words. Words have real world definitions, yes. But more importantly, they have personal meanings and definitions from which we cannot escape.

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From a neurological perspective, if we tend to repeat things back to ourselves over and over on a subconscious level in our brain, we are already feeling the effects of those words hundreds of thousands of times over. Additionally, our understanding of those words may be interpreted differently than intended by the speaker. These are some of the reasons why people begin to argue in relationships. When they misinterpret information exchanged, it could be tone or context related, but many times it can be because that individual receiving the words in feedback form has had a previous experience with those words and decided that they are either positive or negative and reacts accordingly.

Words are also used differently in different cultures. Just as social norms vary, different cultures say things in ways that may feel critical or threatening to another and therefore, it is important to be as clear and precise in pinpointing what you are really trying to say as often as you can.

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The best way to start learning how to communicate with clarity and proper intention is to widen your emotional vocabulary. In general, if you think of words as crayons and communication as art – we are limiting what we can draw by only using a few colors out of our complete crayon box.

For example, when two people in a relationship are arguing, they may use common phrases like “I feel angry, hurt or sad.” But those are actually very broad umbrella words that often don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the emotion you are truly feeling at that moment. If you dig deeper – and use more colors – you realize that you are not actually feeling angry and sad, but rather rejected and afraid.

The more emotional vocabulary words you begin to use, the better you can communicate out with others and receive feedback without feeling the need to respond defensively. By using more of the colors in your crayon box, it can cause you in turn to ask others to also use more of theirs. Together, you may get to the root cause of your issue faster.

The idea is to grow and evolve in your relationships along with your emotional vocabulary and have a better understanding of yourself and feelings along the way. If you can communicate more clearly and more often, you may be able to stop future arguments all together and save relationships from eventual deterioration.

There are many resources available online to improve and extend your emotional vocabulary. To get started, here is one link for an example of how to learn more emotional vocabulary. Begin using them in your relationship discussions for better clarity and faster resolution right away and see if it makes a positive difference for you!

Thank you for following and sharing iflourish!

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, communication consulting, copywriting, PR & Social Media Management for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. 

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