Carol Fleming is a Communication Coach in private practice in San Francisco. Carol has a PhD from Northwestern University, and is the author of “The Sound of Your Voice” and “It’s the Way You Say It.” She is currently engaged in a new book, “The Serious Business of Small Talk: Becoming Fluent, Comfortable and Charming.”
The serious business of small talk
Carol stared her career as a voice pathologist. She helped professionals in all types of voice issues, and she often heard phrases such as “What I really hate is small talk.” After years Carol got curious about these comments and did some research. That’s how she noticed how important small talk is for everybody.
The word “small” gave small talk a bad rep. The truth is that small talk is as important as “big talk” (presentations, speeches, etc), if not more important. This is why we must take it very seriously.
All new relationships start with small talk. Small talk creates the space for people to get to know each other in a safe way and make the decision whether they want to continue this contact or not. It’s a buffer zone.
Carol’s best piece of advice on small talk
When we talk about the weather, a common mistake many people make is thinking that we are really talking about the weather. We’re not. That’s code language for “can we be friends?”
If you’re going to answer “how is the weather?”, add some free information that gives possible paths for continuing the conversation.
Never answer a question with an orphan, a single-word answer.
Your ordinary self is enough. Don’t be phony, be the real you.
If the place you are is too noisy and people can’t hear you, pay special attention to showing your facial expressions. Thus, the person in front of you will read your lips and face expressions to understand you better.
Related: How to Perfect Your Speaking Voice
“Everyone you meet knows something that you don’t.” — Carol Fleming
Routine to Shine
Say “Hello” to as many people as you can. If your eyes meet, acknowledge them. Talk with people you cross on the streets.
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