108 SAVED IDEAS
Small talk can be defined by how much information is exchanged. If you know nothing more about the other person than you knew before the conversation, then it is small talk.
Research shows that small talk with people, even with strangers, can boost our mood. While small talk often feels boring and awkward, one can turn it into enjoyable small talk by commenting on a shared experience or asking open-ended questions.
While we know the value of small talk, it still falls short of what many people are craving: meaningful conversation, where we can dive deeper.
A key feature of deeper conversations is that you get absorbed in the conversation and learn something important about yourself, the other person, or the world.
While small talk doesn't produce intellectual reflection or arouse reflection, the initial conversational exchanges fulfil a social function.
Small talk can be seen as the inactive ingredient in a medicine that holds the pill together. In other words, small talk lays the foundations for something richer.
We like to talk about topics that interest us. But to have better conversations, step out of yourself for a moment and think more about the other person.
Ask open-ended questions, starting with who, what, when, where, why or how. "What was that like?" "How did that feel?" Research shows that people who as questions tend to be better liked by their conversation partners.
A good conversation is only possible if you are really listening. Stephen Covey writes that most of us don't listen with the intent to understand; we listen to reply.
Part of the pleasure of better-quality conversations comes from being curious. If you struggle listening to others, consider how much the other person will appreciate it. Asking follow-up questions will make people feel like they're being heard and listened to.
There is a critical moment of transition in the development of any relationship - it is the moment when you decide to share something more personal about yourself.
Exposing a part of your inner self will encourage your partner to open up too. If it feels daunting, remember that you don't have to reveal everything at once. Start with sharing a small part of yourself - a goal, or a value or belief or a life experience.
Suppose you know that you're going to meet a particular person or group of people. In that case, the chances are that meaningful conversation will not so much be derived from an exchange of personal information but from having a satisfying conversation about an interesting topic or issue.
You may have to prepare by reading up a little on someone else's interests or reading up on the topic of the planned conversation. Come prepared to admit what you don't know and be ready to learn.
A good conversation is more likely to happen if you follow this simple rule: I will give you the space to speak and will listen to what you say. You show interest in the other person, and the person shows interest in what you have to say.
This is not easy and perhaps the reason why meaningful conversations are so rare. But if you remember the give and take principle and come prepared, you're more likely to find meaningful conversations.
To break the ice with a stranger or an acquaintance, comment on your shared situation. For example, commenting on the conference talk you've both just listened to, or the traffic or weather. You can also try giving a compliment, or ask the other person something about themselves.
Then take things further by drawing on your shared experiences. Not every conversation will be a hit, and that's fine.
For doctors, half their game is trying to find out why the person is there. Do they want medication, tests, want to be signed off work, worried they have a more severe illness?
At an appointment, try to mention the most important thing at the beginning. Try to be descriptive. If you have pain, is it dull or sharp, burn or throb? Have you been getting pains for a few days, weeks, or at certain times of the day?
With dating, there is an assumption that you are on the back foot, and the other person holds all the power.
When you're a grownup, you will probably need to initiate conversations as your parents won't want to interfere with your independence. The best way to re-establish a relationship is to give them a regular update on everyday details of your life.
Parents who are getting older need to feel as if they have lived for a reason. It can be very therapeutic to make time for those stories and to share them with each other.
Most people want more contact. Employees often feel out of the loop.
At first, Steve Jobs insisted he would never make a phone. It took two years for his team to persuade him to reconsider. Within nine months, the App Store had a billion downloads, and a decade later, the iPhone had generated over $1 trillion in revenue.
While many leaders have studied the genius of Jobs, few have studied the genius of those who managed to influence him. While too many overconfident leaders reject worthy opinions, it is possible to get anyone to open their minds.
Every personality has an if ... then profile: a pattern of responding to a particular scenario in a specific way. A dominant manager becomes submissive when interacting with a superior. A procrastinator gets their act together when the deadline is coming up.
It is then also possible to use this to encourage a know-it-all to recognise when there's something to learn or change.
In a series of experiments, students were asked to rate their knowledge of everyday objects. The students were overconfident until they had to write out step-by-step explanations. Then they realised how little they understood.
Overconfidence often stands in the way of change. But if you point out someone's ignorance directly, they may get defensive. A better way is to let them recognise the gaps in their own understanding.
Stubbornness is an obstacle to changing people's opinions. Stubborn people will outright reject forceful arguments. They think outcomes can be subject to their will.
Instead of giving answers or forceful arguments, ask questions. This way, you're not telling your boss what to think or do. Questions like "what if?" and "could we?" can make people curious about what's possible.
Narcissistic leaders believe they're superior and special, and don't want to be told they're wrong.
Careful framing can coax them toward admitting they're flawed. Praise them first, but in a different area from the one in which you hope to change their minds. We all have multiple identities. When we feel secure about one of our strengths, we become more open to accepting our shortcomings elsewhere.
Disagreeableness is a trait often expressed through argumentativeness. Disagreeable people are determined to squash the competition. When you want them to change their mind, you become the competition.
Because disagreeable people are energized by conflict, they don't want you to bend to their will immediately. They want you to fight for your ideas.
A common scenario in the world of remote working is waiting for a response for the email one has sent, looking for the information, input or conversation that is required from a coworker or a client.
While we start to think that we are being ghosted, it is common for people to delay email responses as they are juggling work and personal commitments, and our email does not make it to their top 10 list of must-do work. We can keep a few things in mind while reaching the person again in a follow up email.
Being clear without being rude is an art, and one cannot beat around the bush in an email with an ambiguous response. Asking a question creates the next step in the process, and is crucial.
That being said, one also needs to give the recipient an ‘out’ option, demonstrating how you understand their position and presenting yourself as humble and humane. This will make them feel less cornered, increasing the chance of their replying back. Example: Please let me know if you are too busy to provide the requested feedback or if you need more time.
A healthy support network is beneficial if it has authentic trusting relationships, has a varied range of perspectives, and follows the 'give and take rule'.