Creating social capital

    Business Spotlight 8/2020
    Zwei Astronauten auf einem Weltraumspaziergang unterhalten sich
    Von Deborah Capras

    There’s an art to social conversation — and also a little science. The idea that you have to “hold a conversation” makes it sound like you have to work hard at small talk. In business, there is some truth in this.

    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that small talk is just chit-chat on banal topics

    Do it well, and it can help to earn you social capital — those valuable and meaningful personal connections that are essential in the workplace, and in life more generally. Social capital is what you build when you take the time to focus on relationships, and not just on the the bottom linehier: was unterm Strich herauskommtbottom line. It can help to build trust with business partners, create a sense of belonging in teams and take the loneliness out of working from home.

    Don’t to fall into a trapin eine Falle geratenfall into the trap of thinking that small talk is just chit-chat (ifml.)Geplauderchit-chat on banal topicThematopics. The professional kind of small talk can provide many insightErkenntnisinsights. Here are seven key tips for making your small talk professional.

    Finding connections  

    The main purpose of small talk is to discover what you have in common with your business partners or colleagues. People often feel a connection when they find out that they have experienced similar things. You can to highlight sth.etw. hervorhebenhighlight what you have in common by using expressions such as “Same here”, “Me, too” or “Me, neither”. You can also invite someone to explore possible connections with a simple question: “And you?”

    Timing it right

    Small talk can provide a welcome break from workArbeitsunterbrechungbreak from work at any time. How do you get started? In the workplace, you might pay someone a compliment on their office or on a personal itemGegenstanditem, provided (that…)sofern …provided that you don’t get too personal. Positive comments to invite sb.hier: jmdn. aufforderninvite people to share information. In virtual meetings, this trick might not work, as we often can’t see much more than someone’s face (or the inside of their noses). In this case, stay with the basics at the beginning and the end of a meeting: the weather, the weekend and life outside work. The same topics work in emails or on collaboration platformKollaborationsplattform, Plattform zur (zeit- und ortsübergreifenden) Zusammenarbeitcollaboration platforms, too. And open questions are always good — those that can’t be answered with “yes” or “no”.

    to play by the rulessich an die Regeln haltenPlaying by the rules

    Whatever the national or company culture, the basic rule of thumbFaustregelrule of thumb for small talk is that you avoid the top three taboos: religion, politics and corruption. that saidgleichwohlThat said, touching on these topics in a sensitivefeinfühligsensitive way could also help you understand the local community and local business practices. Ideally, you should not make any assumptionMutmaßungassumptions about anything, especially family life or personal beliefs. While most people are usually happy to make small talk, some may prefer to keep certain things private. If that person is you, make sure you know how to politely change the subject. If, on the other hand, you think you may have to offend sb.jmdn. kränken, verletzenoffended someone, quickly apologize and move on.

    Telling a good story

    Make use of the power of storytelling, but keep your stories short and sweetkurz und bündigshort and sweet. Above all, don’t make them all about yourself. A good story has a clear beginning and a surprising end. The best stories highlight something you have learned from your experience or facts that might be interesting to your audienceZuhörer(innen)audience.  

    Astronaut mit Aktentasche

    Showing interest

    If you are genuinelywirklich, echtgenuinely interested in other people, you’ll find it easy to show interest in them. And it’s very easy to tell if someone is interested in you: they’ll ask you relevant questions and give appropriateentsprechend, sachgerechtappropriate feedback.

    Remembering the details

    Small talk flows best when you are open to sharing information — and when you remember what someone has shared with you in the past. Remembering personal details makes the other person feel important, which can help build social capital.

    Moving on  

    In a work settingRahmen, Umfeldsetting, too much chit-chat can look unprofessional, especially if other people in the meeting or office feel excluded from the conversation. Always be ready to change the focus back to business.

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