4 reasons you should never underestimate the power of small talk

For something so commonly practiced, small talk is overrated. I think of it’s place in society the same as I do the use of puns: everyone wishes they could master it and mocks it if they can’t. We should all use small talk more – it’s benefits are more plentiful than you realise.

When we say small talk we’re even including idle chat about the weather or how late the bus is, it all counts. Despite being defined by The Huffington Post as “conversation about things that are not of any great importance”, the effects of small talk are far more significant.

Here are four reason why you should never underestimate the power of small talk.

1. Connectedness 

Humans, both biologically and philosophically, thrive in social situations. You might appreciate your alone time but there’s a reason solitary confinement is considered the worst punishment and The Sims feature a ‘social need bar’. Small talk is the barometer to gauge connectedness and first impressions. It is an invaluable tool to begin social discourse and thus forge connection.

2. Commute happier

A professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago conducted a study on small talk and daily commuters and found that: “Commuters asked to interact with other passengers reported having the most pleasant commute.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spark conversation on every tube journey, but implementing small talk into your travel will warrant some distinction between the days.

3. Quells the fear of rejection

Small talk is the vehicle by which we transition into natural conversation. We can overcome our social anxieties by talking about what we know, which is basically what small talk is. By shifting the topic of conversation onto the other person you can take the heat off yourself and appear to show an interest.

4. Creates a generous atmosphere

Small talk could be manipulated to achieve “a projected gain”, polite and respectful chat can stimulate an atmosphere of giving. Showing a willingness to connect is the best impression you can give off when meeting someone for the first time.