Small Talk vs. Big Talk

I’m really tired of people talking about small talk.  I don’t usually rant … today this is a rant.

Small talk is exactly that.  It is small.  It appears to be engaging.  But it isn’t.  I think small talk is lazy thinking in process.

Small talk is usually about the weather… or traffic … or your favorite (or not so favorite) local sports team.  Small talk is also usually all about OJ Simpson’s latest bad press moment or some other silly nonsense that does nothing to help you learn anything at all about the person that you are talking with.

Could we all just agree to have ONE day without small talk?

How about if we engaged in BIG talk?

What is BIG talk?

Big talk is when you ask someone questions that show that you are interested in the “big picture” for them.  When you are interested in learning about someone … you simply want to know more about what makes them tick, what is important to them, what is it that ultimately makes their heart “sing.”

The keys to BIG talk are 2 fold.

First, you must ask engaging questions.  Like, “Jane, tell me, what is the one thing you like most about _________?” (fill in the blank with whatever it is that Jane does.)  Or, when John tells you he does Pet Portraits, you can ask “That’s interesting, John, what is the most challenging portrait you’ve ever taken?”

These kind of questions usually get “BIG” responses because the person you are talking to can tell that you are interested in knowing more about them than the average networking encounter.

And, you can keep that conversation going for as long as you want by simply saying things like, “really? Tell me more” or “wow, can you explain that further?”

The second key to Big Talk success is to listen more and talk less.

That’s right.  Big Talk only works if you listen to the answers.

If you interrupt, interject, or finish someone’s sentences for them – you may as well be engaged in small talk because you will have created a disconnect with your non-listening actions.

Aside from your smile, the greatest gift that you can give easily to another person is to listen and hear what they are saying.  When you do this, you have emotionally engaged the other person and you are fast on your way to the liking part of the knowing, liking, and trusting phases of networking.

One last tip.  No one-upping!  If you have asked someone a question and they are telling you a fabulous story and they are feeling really good about themselves in the moment, the quickest way to blow the glow is to one-up the person with your own self patting on the back.

Save it for another time.  Or call your mom after the event and let her pat you on the back.  Be the bigger person and let your new friend have the spotlight.  They’ll remember you always as the person who cared enough to ask BIG questions and even more importantly – that you listened!

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