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The Awkward Small Talk During WFH

The Awkward Small Talk During WFH

Office chit chat, whether real or virtual is essential for building good relations with colleagues and makes our mood better. It is a reminder that not everything is about work when an office colleague talks about his dog or some hot new Netflix show.

Due to the pandemic, many such small talks are happening via Slack or Google Chat and can seem daunting to initiate. A few handy tips can make your virtual work life a little less awkward.

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Remote Communication: Response Time Expectations

When we initiate small talk, an instant response is expected, and that is because we are used to face-to-face conversations around the office water cooler.

Online conversations can have a different response time and the other person may respond after hours.

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Get Specific And Find Common Ground

  • Just a ‘hi’ or ‘how are you’ is not going to cut it. You can open the conversation in a better way: ‘So what’s new in the past week?’
  • When asked something specific on an online chat, it is easier to interpret it, as it does not sound vague, overcoming the handicap of lack of visual/body language cues.
  • Ensure the topics do not include negative gossip or complaints, as these conversations can be easily accessed by other people.

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Do Not Ask For Favours

When asking for some favour, do not start with pleasantries, like ‘how are you?’. The chit chat should not be clubbed with favours or even for a required input from the colleague.

Make the small talk feel like a much-needed break, a mental work-free zone.

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Use Technology For Your Benefit

Small talk happening online can be made better using emoji or funny GIFs. There are many tools at our disposal that help with engagement.

One can try video conversations to liven up the moment with the colleague. A Zoom lunch is a great option too.

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Ending A Conversation

Not having a definitive goodbye is absolutely fine, so there is no reason to specifically ask to end the chat.

If the other person is not very well known to you, then the conversation can be formally ended with:

  • ‘Thank you’
  • ‘Let’s stay in touch’
  • ‘I’m glad we could connect’
  • ‘I appreciate your time.’

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