No matter how large or small your office, or how much you like or dislike chatting with office mates, consider small talk an art worth mastering. Sometimes conversation may feel stilted or awkward, depending on your level of comfort with the person, but knowing a few basic pointers can help you gain allies at work, always a helpful card to have in your deck.
When speaking with the CEO, ask an easy, open-ended question that allows him or her to immediately bump it back to you, then bring up something positive you’re currently working on. Ask about how their week has gone and then, when they ask about you, give a brief, positive answer and relate it back to your latest project. Make sure to listen well and ask thoughtful questions. This can also work with a VIP: Introduce yourself and ask that open-ended question or mention your interest in something they’ve specifically worked on. In either case, remember to mention your name so they don’t have to search for it and so they remember you next time.
With a more seasoned colleague.
Particularly if you feel intimidated by this person, ask them about where you might for a networking lunch. Appeal to their knowledge of the area and expertise – don’t be too obsequious but use it as a clear avenue to start a conversation that goes beyond, “How’s it going?” If you have an idea of what they’re working on, you may want to use that as an inroad as well. And you may find that person less intimidating that you had thought.
With a department colleague you don’t know at all.
Again, ask about how the person’s week is going. When they respond, listen carefully and ask a question directly related to that person’s named project/client/etc. In other words, start broadly to cover up the fact that you really don’t know what they do (and they may not know what you do, either) and then move into specifics. When you see that person again at a later date, ask how that specific went. If they don’t give you much to work with, offer something of your own that you’re doing.
No matter who you speak with in the office, act friendly, listen well, and always follow up. To find your next office job, visit PrideStaff.