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August 25, 2004

News & Opinion: With a Little Bit of Luck

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 7:30 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

TRAIT TWO: Make Small Talk

As I travel across the country giving presentations, I have learned that many people hold small talk in low regard. In my research for What Do I Say Next? I discovered that the only people who put down small talk, are the ones who are bad at it. The ConverSENsations saw small talk as a way to get to know people and never denigrated it. The You Never Know It Alls didnt wait for the great opening line. Nor did they first speak BIG talk, about famine, quantum theories of physics or economics of incarcerating first time offenders. Although these are great BIG Talk Topics, the people who attracted coincidental opportunities talked about little things: weather, traffic, movies, etc. They start with, Hello, how are you? And then they listen to the answer.
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Bill was standing in line at a Lake Tahoe grocery store when the woman in back of him asked him if he was there to ski. "I noticed that she was older, dressed conservatively and warmly...it was cold there during the season. I was in a hurry and not much in a mood for small talk as the family was hungry and I was getting the dinner fixings. But I responsed that we didn't mind the cold because it meant the snow didn't melt and we could ski. She asked if we ever visited during the summer and the family had been talking about that exact thing not an hour before. One thing lead to another and she offered to rent her Tahoe condo for 'next to nothing' that summer. My wife was very impressed with the condo coup. This had little to do with my negotiating skills...it was just my good fortune resulting from my being open and making small talk with a very nice person."