Communication skills and the ability to engage in “small talk” is the #1 asset for job candidates according to a survey conducted by BloombergBusiness. That’s also sound advice for working executives and those who want to advance in their organizations.
Small Talk is an Ice Breaker
The next two most important assets cited in the study are analytical skills and the ability to work collaboratively. It’s not surprising that communication skills and small talk are essential to working collaboratively.
Small talk isn’t a waste of time. It plays an important role in establishing an emotional connection in one-on-one conversations and also among team members. Individuals can feel each other out before beginning a substantive discussion.
Small talk is an icebreaker and the catalyst for starting relationships.
Have you ever been at a networking event where you felt backed into a wall by someone who immediately tried to sell you something? It no doubt made you squirm in discomfort. A hard sell can kill the opportunity to start a relationship.
Bypassing small talk is a turnoff.
Instead, a skilled communicator will prepare for a job interview by practicing two or three openings as well as responses to questions you’re sure to hear such as variations on “What is your ideal job?”
Get yourself comfortable by first putting the focus on the interviewer. Say something like, “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I know you must have a very busy schedule.” It’s polite and strategic to thank someone at the start of your meeting and not wait until the end. You are showing your appreciation right up front.
You need to be a good listener to be a good communicator. Take your cues from the interviewer. What does he want to discuss? Mentally start preparing your answers, while being attentive and maintaining eye contact. Use body language, such as nodding your head in agreement and leaning in to convey your positive attitude.
Small talk is just as important when you need to work collaboratively with your team. The Harvard Business Review, in a study of the best performing CEOs, discovered that to be a collaborative leader takes strong skills in four areas: playing the role of connector, attracting diverse talent, modeling collaboration at the top, and showing a strong hand to keep teams from getting mired in debate.
The foundation for all these skills is excelling at communication. A team can’t coalesce around a leader who isn’t able to communicate his vision and articulate his goals for the team.
Any executive going after her dream job will lose out if she lacks communications skills. Good grades and performance evaluations are a requirement, of course. But they aren’t enough.
You need to be an A+ at the small talk that gains trust and touches the emotions of those who control your destiny.
- Common Job Interview Questions And How To Answer Them (opencolleges.edu.au)
- How Effective Is Your Business Communication Skill? (bizsugar.com)