Small talk is big. It is HUGE. It is everywhere and it is an important skill.
Small talk is the small informal filler conversation in day to day life.
Small talk can feel awkward and weird because it looks like a conversation without an explicit and obvious purpose. But it has a purpose. Small talk fills awkward gaps in conversations and helps pave the way for deeper conversation and friendship (if wanted).
Small talk is vital for networking in offices and conferences. It is the multitool for conversations.
It can be used to start conversations.
"How is the weather outside? Is it suppose to rain?"
And it can be used to end conversations.
"Yep, it is raining cats and dogs right now."
"Really? I better to run to catch my bus. It was nice chatting with you."
Here are my five go to topics for small talk.
Everyone can talk about the weather. It is a good small talk topic but can feel dated and boring, especially if your location is always sunny or cold. It probably was the first small talk topic.
Many people have them and those that do often love to talk about them. You get to see pictures, learn about childhood pets, or maybe why they don't have a pet. You probably will be asked if you have a pet as well.
Everyone either just came back or are planning their next vacation. Vacations can tell you much about what a person likes or dislikes and can easily lead into other topics. People are often very happy to talk about vacation.
Some people read or watch movies. Some people go rock climbing or biking. Everyone has something they do when they aren't at work. There are many hobbies out there in the world and the only way to learn about them all is to ask.
Code shirts, code pins, figurines, and laptop stickers all fall into this category. Remember to compliment only what someone obviously chose.
These topics work best when phrased as a question. This encourages the other person to engage in the conversation and choose what level of detail they want to give.
Being that small talk doesn't have an explicit point, it can be easier to end than other conversations. I often thank the person, state when I can chat again, and then leave.
"It was good chatting with you but I have to get going, I'll talk to you later!"
Small talk doesn't have to be scary or frustrating. It is a valued multitool for conversation, networking, and modern life.