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Ackert Blog

Why Small Talk is Such a Big Deal



The breakneck pace of our day-to-day has turned us into shortcut experts. Whether we’re using Waze to navigate side streets or using automation software to send marketing emails, we all seek out strategies that will make us more efficient. The trouble is, most of us measure our efficiency in quantity, not quality.

I’m as guilty as anyone. I churn through anywhere between 100-200 emails a day (excluding SPAM). I feel productive based on how many of those messages I process, but I never stop to reflect on how well I process them. When I’m overwhelmed, the focus is too often on quantity over quality.

This plays out in our interactions too. So often, we begin our calls and meetings with a few perfunctory comments like, “Can you believe the weather we’re having?” or “Are you doing anything special this weekend?” We check the niceties box as quickly as we can and get down to business. While this approach makes for an efficient meeting, it does nothing toward advancing the relationship.

So, next time you’re beginning a conversation with a business contact, try to avoid generic chit-chat and show a genuine interest instead. Ask them how their daughter is doing in her first year of college. Check in on the status of that project that consumed their whole department last quarter. If you set your mind to it, every one of your interactions can be an opportunity to deepen the connection. Your intention to upgrade the quality of your small talk can turn the sterile exchange of information into a more meaningful and purposeful approach to doing business.

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