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The #1 best phrase people who’re good at small talk use

by | Nov 21, 2023 | 4 comments

You’re headed into this holiday season. You’ll probably encounter extended family and friends. Your conversations will start with small talk, defined as “polite and standard conversation about unimportant things.”

While small talk might seem trivial, it can net big benefits – around the holiday table and in your various business settings.

This initial type of conversation can help drive richer connections by finding common interests while also demonstrating empathy. At the very least you’ll gain more insights about the other person.

How do you do this?

According to Matt Abrahams, author of “Think Faster, Talk Smarter: How to Speak Successfully When You’re Put on the Spot“, use this power phrase: “Tell me more.”

“Support responses” vs “Shift responses”

Abrahams defines these two types of responses. “Tell me more” is a support response. You are supporting what the other person says. You are inviting the other person to keep expressing themselves. You are winning the gold medal of active listening.

“Shift responses” create the opposite outcome. You shift away from the other person and hook back to your own agenda. In essence, you hijack the conversation.

Example: “We really had a rough travel day! Got stuck in Chicago for 3 hours and missed the connection at DFW.”

Support response: “Tell me more.”

Shift response: “You think that was bad, one time we were going to JFK but landed in Philadelphia because JFK flooded!”

You might have a great story about your JFK/Philly calamity but you’ve shut down the other person.

Other “support responses”

In addition to the best response, “tell me more”, other support responses include asking more questions about the details of the event or the emotions around the event. “What happened next?”  or  “Did that make you go crazy?”  or “How did you handle that?”

When to use “shift responses”

You don’t want to sound like you’re doing a legal deposition either! There does come a time to share your own anecdotes and experiences.  Give and take conversations create more meaningful encounters.

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, as you head into the holiday season remember that information talks and wisdom listens. Use more “support responses”.

I am grateful for your support of this blog!

source: CNBC: https://apple.news/Ayem5YVoMQE2jk2m-SMYvjQ

4 Comments

  1. Val Cronin

    Tremendous advice. You can be a good conversationalist by focusing on the other person and genuinely listening to them, without saying much yourself.

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Hi Val – Correct! Let the other people do the talking while you’re actively listening.

      Did you do this over the Thanksgiving holiday?

      Thanks for your feedback!

      Karen

  2. Layla

    I love this idea of support responses! Thank you for sharing before the Holidays it will be very helpful during lunch and dinner conversations!

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Layla – I hope using support responses helped you during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

      These types of responses will be productive in your professional world as well. Let me know.

      Best, Karen

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