The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Communicate at Work

The key to success lies in good communication

Big mistake companies make

What exactly is small talk?

The fine art of small talk: what are the benefits?

What is the purpose of small talk?

6 strategies to master the fine art of small talk

1) Prepare for the conversation

2) Treat the customer like a close friend

3) Ask open-ended questions

4) Get rid of distractions

5) Be empathetic

6) Show enthusiasm

Small talk topic ideas

  • Books, podcasts, movies, tv shows
  • Travel experiences
  • Food, cooking, restaurants
  • Hobbies and passions
  • Career goals and job responsibilities
  • Favorite sports
  • Plans for the holidays
  • Weather and climate
  • Personal or professional goals
  • Favorite local hangouts
  • News, current events
  • Entertainment industry

Topics to avoid

Examples of questions you can ask:

  • Where are you from?
  • What’s the weather like there?
  • How long have you lived here?
  • What do you like the most about the area/city/town/etc.?
  • What are the top things to see and do here?
  • Do you have any recommendations or tips for things to try?
  • What are the “holes in the wall” that everyone needs to check out while they’re here?
  • What’s been the highlight of your day (week or month) so far?
  • How are the holidays treating you?
  • What’s a typical day look like for someone in your line of work?
  • Any books or podcasts you’d recommend I add to my audio book playlist?
  • What kind of music are you into these days?
  • How long have you been a fan of the team/league/sport in question?
  • Who’s your favorite player and why?
  • Why did the team win the big game last night/weekend/season etc.?
  • How did you get into your line of work?
  • How do you like working in this industry?

When to avoid small talk

  • How may I help you?
  • What brings you here today?
  • What can I do for you?
  • What are the problems you are experiencing or the issues you are having?
  • Do you have any questions for me?
  • What information do I need to help you with the issue/inquiry?
  • Is there anything else I can help with today? (This is typically the last question asked unless the caller requests something additional.)

Actions speak louder than words




CEO at CustomersFirst Academy, global provider of online customer service training and certifications.

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Viktoriya Maya

Viktoriya Maya

CEO at CustomersFirst Academy, global provider of online customer service training and certifications.

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