Small talk can change your life (for the better)

A couple of years ago, I gave one of my clients an experiment to practise ‘small talk’ with a variety of people in and outside work. In the supermarket, on the many flights he took for work, with colleagues and so on.

There was a solid business case and reason for this as well as a deeply personal one which was about building trust, being genuinely interested in others and getting to know people as ‘human beings’ not just roles and titles. In essence it was about helping him to CONNECT with his work colleagues. He’d struggled to do this using the belief that ‘private stuff has no place at work’ and it was having a detrimental effect on his work relationships – people described him as ‘secretive’ and ‘closed’ when of course he simply saw the world in a different way from his peers .

He really wanted to change this (whilst remaining true to what he described as ‘my inner introvert’!) and so he started...

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Shut up and Listen!

Sorry if that sounds rude but one of the mistakes we sometimes make when going into a conversation is to think we should have all the answers – slick, smart, clever answers.

Because, as a leader or manager that’s what you’re paid to do, right?


The best managers I know have mastered the art of asking great questions (and listening REALLY well) in order to get to the best answers.

And let me be clear. This is NOT a set of questions that you can learn by rote and pull out randomly. Oh no.

Now, there are some great questions that can serve many purposes because it’s always good to have a starting point. But we can do so much more than that if we want to get to mastery.

My wonderful coach mentor recently described a really great question as ‘one you would only ever use once’.

Because it only means something to that particular person. You’re using their words as part of your question.

That is really powerful.

It means really listening to...

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