MUNICH (MunichNOW Wellness) –Have you ever entered an empty elevator only to be joined by neighbors, co-workers, or even your boss? Everyone grunts “hi”and the elevator begins to move. An uncomfortable silence falls. Some look at their watches, remove invisible pieces of lint from their clothing, or stare at the ceiling, relieved when they reach their floor and can escape.
Although the passengers appear calm, most rack their minds for something clever to say. Afraid of rejection or of saying something stupid, most lose the initial courage to speak up and surrender to their anxieties. The mock security of muteness may provide instant relief, but it also doubles their angst next time. Situations like this call for small talk. Small talk is the art of chatting with others. It is an unintentional attempt to connect with others in a positive way. Small talk themes should be general, non-discriminating, complimentary, harmonious and easy to comprehend. This casual networking is a skill and demands some practice.
Ten topics to break the ice in any situation are:
1) The weather. EVERYONE has an opinion on the weather. It’s a no-brainer.
2) Headlines in today’s paper. Most will have scanned the news by mid-morning.
3) Compliments. Everyone enjoys an honest compliment. And quite frankly, isn’t it doubly enjoyable to see that smile on the complimentee?
4) Commenting upon the obvious. A beautiful picture hanging in a waiting room, the delicious smell of coffee and doughnuts that greet you in Starbucks, the list goes on…
5) Sports. Most will have a favorite team or will have watched a recent game.
6) Pets and children. Watch people just light up when they get a chance to talk about their beloved.
7) Health and wellness. Keep it light and positive. Everyone welcomes new ideas to maintain physical and mental fitness. Amazingly, the advice passed on by regular people is often valued more than advice from professionals!
8) Vacation and holiday plans. Doesn’t everyone desire a relaxing getaway?
9) Hobbies. Leave a positive impression by chatting about the things you love to do in your free time. You may find that you share the same interests.
10) Food and dining out. This is ostensibly the number one topic after breakfast! Other’s experiences may save us from spending money on an unsavory meal, bad service or unreasonable prices. Keep these handy the next time you enter that elevator. You may find that you enjoy the casual conversation, learn new and interesting things about others, or begin new and rewarding friendships. In the end, you may even regret when those elevator doors open.