Making small talk

Making small talk

Making small talk

Being able to make conversation with others at work – whether they’re your colleagues or your customers – is important for finding and keeping a job. Here at NOVA Transition Penrith, we regularly practise our communication skills as we work towards becoming job-ready.

Making small talk comes more naturally to some people than others. The good news is that it’s something that you can get better at with practice.

So what exactly is small talk and why is it so important?

Small talk is a chatting with people about ‘small’ things – such as the weather, current events or sport. Most of us have some experience of these topics, and they are not likely to offend anyone. This makes them easy conversation starters.  

Making small talk is a way to make contact with people; it’s like the glue that creates and maintains contact with friends, colleagues and business partners.

It’s important to be able to make small talk in the workplace because:                                                       

  • we improve our communication skills
  • talking to others makes us feel happy
  • it helps us build confidence in the workplace
  • it creates a good working relationship within the workplace
  • everyone feels part of the team.

How do we know what we should and shouldn’t talk about at work?

To work this out we did a trial of Chinese whispers and we learnt how quickly words can change and information can be taken the wrong way from person to person. This showed us how we need to be careful about what we discuss in the workplace.

In our group we did some role-plays on appropriate and inappropriate small talk. We realised that someone who asks too many questions and personal questions can make others feel uncomfortable.

We have thought about some appropriate small talk topics:

  • How was the traffic this morning?
  • How are you today?
  • Gosh this weather is nice!
  • I really like your shoes.
  • How was your weekend?

Great conversation starters

Penrith trainees really enjoy our weekly news reviews, which get us talking about current events. Knowing what is in the news gives us plenty of good conversation starters.

We enjoy discussing the news with our peers: it helps us to get to know one another and gives us the confidence to be able to talk to others when we start in employment. We make small talk in the lunchroom. Sometimes we use topics in the news for role-plays to practise our communication skills.

Penrith NOVA Transition

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