Small talk etiquette: Attention chatterbox reflex

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When people hear “small talk”, they think that they really need to talk. This translation error leads to them talking too much, even chattering themselves around head and collar. It doesn't have to be!

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Dr. Cornelia Topf Best of HR –®Dr. Cornelia Topf is a certified business coach and international management trainer.


From the author:




The more uncertain people, the more they talk!

The more insecure many people are, the more they talk, the more they get on their nerves and the more they get the opposite of what they want to achieve - namely, to be liked. A good small talk is when you hear and talk to your counterpart.

Why? Because the small talk does not go down. But for recognition. We small talken because we are hungry for recognition (even if this hunger is unconscious in most people). Whoever speaks may be sympathetic. Whoever listens is guaranteed to be sympathetic. The better, the more!

Many are not interested in listening

Those who listen give recognition in the fastest possible way. Whoever listens and asks questions, like Hans. One question tells the other person: “I have a lot to tell, but now tell me. I listen to you. You are interested in me (the most beautiful form of recognition). ”

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And this is exactly where it becomes clear why people in technically oriented professions often have problems with small talk (there are exceptions). Many tell me in the coaching or seminar: “Why should what a supporter tells me be important? She has no idea about the technology! ”

Small talk: Actually, it's about interest

Are engineers, managers and scientists generally small talk unsuitable? Do they always have to wait outside, while civilized people in the salon maintain the social exchange?

Please excuse the polemic. The truth is: some of the best small talkers I know are engineers. Why do these supporters say what a supporter has to say? The question is their own answer: While talking small talk is synonymous. But it's all about interest.

The greatest specialist idiot on earth

Take Richard Feynmann, for example. He was a physicist and, in his opinion, the greatest professional idiot on earth. But after his Nobel Prize, he fell on the social floor of high society: embarrassment risk!

He had no idea why the new Bentley is much better than the new Rolls and why you really need Chinese nannies today (if you make more than five million a year).

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The Feynman recipe

So he could have embarrassed himself immortally. Everyone would have - rightly! - can say about him: “Typical physicist! Only knows his formulas but nothing of the world! ” But within a single ball season, Feynman became the darling of high society. And if a dust-dry theoretical physicist can do it, everyone can do it. How?

Because: Small talk is about interest in the other person. And I can develop interest for everything (do not ask!), What is said - regardless of subject area. Just the Nobel Prize winner Richard P. Feynman is a prime example of this.

Honest interest instead of arrogance

Feynman had no idea. But an almost limitless interest. When a salon lioness got excited about the new Beluga harvest, Feynman's first thought was that of every small talk greenhorn: “Oh God! Who cares about Beluga! I am a physicist! I don't even know what Beluga is! ” But his second thought was: “You don't understand that? Then let me explain it to you! ” And he said, "Excuse me, why isn't the new Beluga harvest good?"

The scream of the fine ladies could be heard as far as Anchorage. The outcry of delight: Nothing boosts small talk faster and more effectively than an honest and interested question from a bloody layperson. Because you can tell a lot about a bloody layperson! Much more than an old hand, who blows away every second sentence: “Been there, done that!”

Make your conversation partner an expert

Every expert almost breaks off to answer a question for the layperson. Because nothing profiles him more than experts! Nothing brings him greater recognition! Therefore: show interest! Ask questions! "How many?" I am sometimes asked. The answer: Until you get it!

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Let us assume that the current Beluga harvest is not suitable because the sturgeon roe is “too granular”. N / A? Sorry? What do you ask? Of course: "Excuse my ignorance, but what does 'too granular' mean?" Do you hear the outcry of delight? But hello! Wait a moment! Does that mean that I have to think along with small talk?

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German edition: ISBN 9783965960985

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English version: ISBN 9783965960992 (Translation notice)

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