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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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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.

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.’

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.

  • 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.

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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Preparing For Small Talk

If you often find yourself participating in small talk about topics you have no interest in or have already discussed to exhaustion, the solution may be asking people unexpected, thought-provoking questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no.

It’s a good idea to have stock questions so you don’t have to think them up in the moment.

48 Questions That'll Make Small Talk Easier

themuse.com

COVID-19 and Small Talk

In our pandemic world, casual conversation has been all but eliminated. The closest thing we get these days is saying “thank you” to a delivery person or greeting a grocery store clerk. Even then, we're hesitant to linger — every unnecessary moment with a stranger feels taboo, every breath a hazard. And, now, in the absence of chit-chat, we feel isolated and unenergized. This has led to a potentially controversial revelation: small talk gets an unfairly bad rap.

Blah Blah Blah: The Lack of Small Talk Is Breaking Our Brains | The Walrus

thewalrus.ca

But how do you listen? Effective listening is about more than just passively receiving information. Instead, you need to show the other person that you’re listening.

The following body language shows that you’re listening:

  • Turning toward the person (don’t stare off into space or look away)
  • Nodding (or shaking your head)
  • Making eye contact (just be sure not to overdo it or it can be creepy)

Finally, don’t talk too much. Really listen; be quiet and take in what the person is saying.

10 Ways to Improve Your Social Skills and Be More Outgoing

collegeinfogeek.com

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