Working relationships: the importance of small talk

Felicia Guadagni

Small talk: the number one tool you need to master if you want (or need) to form a relationship in the workplace.

Why might you need to form a relationship in the workplace? As with most steady jobs, chances are you have to be around your co-workers daily. Yes, you may get along with and form close friendships with a handful of your colleagues, but there will also be a few who you just can’t stand. Maybe your co-worker chews his or her lunch too loud, takes too long at the copy machine or maybe is just a flat-out jerk.

News flash: No matter how much you may dislike your co-worker, you most likely will have to play nice in order to keep your job.

Small talk 101:

“Isn’t the weather nice today?”

“So, what did you think of the Brown’s game yesterday?”

“I had the most amazing dinner last night. I’ll have to get you the recipe!”

Short, shallow and pointless conversation starters like these are the key to getting along with co-workers and forging friendships in the workplace, said Adnan Raslan, a senior integrated life sciences major.

“You just have to keep the conversation enthusiastic, that’s the key,” Raslan said.

Small talk can be easy. It requires no substance and doesn’t necessitate vested interest in your co-worker’s response. When in doubt, there’s always the classic, go-to topic: the weather.

Even though she hasn’t come across a problem forming relationships in the workplace, Ashante Price, a sophomore history major, agreed that deep conversation isn’t needed to start and sustain this type of relationship.

“I wouldn’t try to talk to (co-workers) about anything meaningful,” Price said.

Tabatha Taylor, a junior early childhood education major, who is also a line cook at Rosie’s Diner, chooses to take a diplomatic approach when dealing with co-workers she doesn’t like.

“I treat everyone with respect and realize you can’t be friends with everyone you meet,” Taylor said. “You just have to use your experiences and knowledge about the situation to make the best of it.”

Keeping it short, simple and mindful is key to maintaining work relationships.

Contact Felicia Guadagni at [email protected].