Making meaningful chitchat in a
business setting can be excruciating. Heed these helpful tips from
Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk (Small Talk
Open simply. To help break the ice, approach
someone who meets your gaze and begin by asking, “What brought you
to this event?” or “What have you particularly enjoyed about
today’s sessions?” Then listen for commonalities in the
Do not interrogate. Avoid asking a gamut of
personal or intrusive questions. Stick to one subject for a few
minutes and have a real conversation about it.
Remember names. Spend a few seconds mentally
rehearsing a person’s name after introductions have been made. If
you forget, apologize and ask again.
Break it off. If you really need to move on,
give the person a 30-second warning, such as, “I need to meet
so-and-so before he leaves.” Then allow the person to wrap up the
conversation. If that doesn’t happen, politely excuse yourself.