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Returning To The Office: Reconnecting With Small Talk

While more and more employees are transitioning WFH to hybrid or back-to-office full time, research reveals after working virtually for over two years that many workers feel they’re quite rusty, or have lost capacity (and interest) for face-to-face Small Talk. And for others, Small Talk just has never come easy; the thought of initiating conversation makes them cringe, and want to avoid it at all costs. For those not comfortable with Small Talk in the first place, having WFH without much external socialization may have exacerbated their angst.


Remember though, human beings in general enjoy each other’s company along with good conversation. In general we crave socializing, and everyone has their own level of comfort. As you’re returning to the office, and getting reacquainted with your peers and routines, think about Small Talk as an opportunity or an opening for (re)connection, discovery and community.


If it’s not something that comes naturally to you, practice and have a few openers/conversation starters for those elevator, atrium, workspace and lunchroom scenarios. Such as:


◾️ Good Morning, I’m so glad to see you in person!


◾️ I’ve missed our lunches and hope that (a common haunt) is still open, do you know if it still is?


◾️ What are you looking forward to in (this morning’s/tomorrow’s) meeting?


◾️ Have you met (new employee/new supervisor) in person yet?


◾️ I feel so strange in an office with more than just (me, kids, partner, family) – what about you?


◾️ How did it feel commuting to work today/this week?


◾️ What do you think about the new (software, customer response process, office design/set-up)?


◾️ How about we schedule/plan/brainstorm/develop “outside” our (office space) – would you like to meet in the atrium/cafeteria/coffee lounge?


◾️ Give a compliment on someone’s new look, hairstyle, shoes.


◾️ Ask how their new routine is going and trade tips.


Remember, Small Talk is The Opener and Small Talk often segues into Big Talk later.