I was at an official dinner and I realised that if you removed “office talk” from the list of topics – there would be just silence !! I have always been a bookworm and I inherited the love of travel from dad and my grandmother. That day I also realised how useful these two habits were …. I can hold a conversation on non-office topics too and that is so valuable.
As India became the back office to the world and much of our initial BPO work was in call centres – the big challenge we faced was CSA’s unable to empathise or hold a conversation about anything other than the question the customer asked. Ofcourse cultural differences played a big part and language challenges were there but just the fact that CSA’s couldn’t do small talk had a huge negative impact. It was telling on our education system, because all the focus seems to be on learning by rote and getting marks. Schools need to have discussions, movies about different cultures, expand the child’s perspective.
The habit of reading is another essential … Books are travels into people’s minds, their thoughts and their differing perspectives. Even fiction is a good story and think of the Mahabharata – any story more riveting than that ? Good fiction helps you with the language besides a good story. I read Salman Rushdie very late in my life, but my vocabulary improved significantly with just one of his books !
Think of the great Jack Welch … And imagine he was at this dinner. How would you like to leave a lasting impression on Jack Welch ? It’s a social setting and you can’t discuss office stuff – no sales targets or employee issues.. Can you hold a ten minute interesting conversation with Jack Welch? Small talk is not small, it’s the verbal golf that leaves the right impression if done well.
Learning is available all over the place, especially now with the internet, podcasts, Webinars, you tube – it’s a knowledge world. Go pick the medium that works best for you and learn to do the right small talk.
Reap big benefits from small talk 🙂