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How to Engage in Meaningful Conversation and Get Past the Small Talk

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https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-engage-in-meaningful-conversation-and-get-past_b_59a9673ae4b0d0c16bb52466

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How to Engage in Meaningful Conversation and Get Past the Small Talk
Noticing the time on a text message (3:04 a.m.) that came in from a Millennial one morning, I asked if he had been working that late. "No, I went out to meet someone at a coffee shop about midnight. Just thought I'd answer your earlier text as I walked home."

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Turn Small Talk Into Intriguing Talk

Turn Small Talk Into Intriguing Talk
  • Twist a “light topic” with a serious tone: use what you already know to ask more personal questions or go deeper into topics.
  • Play it straight: admit that you don’t like ...

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The weirdness of it

The weirdness of it

Reaching out privately to a colleague can feel weird because making the active decision to initiate a conversation usually creates the expectation that you want something.
So explain why you're ...

Reach out

Reaching out and offering your help to a new colleague, for example, is a great way to start a conversation.
It can feel weird, but in a remote setup, this is the only way these chats will happen.

Respond privately

A great way to start a conversation with a teammate is to respond privately to comments made in public channels.
For example:

  • Your comment was very funny!
  • Great job on solving that tricky issue!
  • Thank you for answering my question, I appreciate your perspective.

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Small talk

Not everyone enjoys small talk. It is not that they are not comfortable talking, but one-on-one, small talk remains an issue.

Small talk precedes big talk in the normal course of human af...

Small talk has meaning

Anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski noted in 1923 that a great deal of talk "does not serve any purpose of communicating ideas" but "to establish bonds of personal union." He also said that small talk was merely a way to fill the silence.

He was wrong. Small talk is not just for those seeking companionship. It enacts and reinforces social roles in a whole range of social, commercial, and professional settings. 

Speech operates on two levels

  • Speech communicates information or ideas. It is the semantic content of speech.
  • On another level, talking is a social behavior. Every speech does something. It reassures, acknowledges, nurtures, enjoins, rejects, dominates, encourages, or just fill an awkward silence.

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Make note of something pleasant

"This dip is delicious!" "Nice turnout for this event!"

There's something positive to say in nearly every situation, so find it...

Comment on the weather

The one exception to the no-negatives rule is the weather. 

If you're in the midst of a heat wave, cold snap, or torrential downpour, remarking on the unusual weather is often a good way to start a conversation.

Ask for information

"Excuse me, do you know what time the next session starts?" 

Even if you already know the answer, asking for information can be a great way to start someone talking with you, because everyone likes to feel helpful.

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