Effective communication is one of the most important skills for any employee to develop. The bad news is that most employees do not actually receive any training on how to communicate with their co-workers and clients. There are a lot of managers that tell us how difficult it is to have any conversation with employees because at times they are unsure what to talk about. Some managers do not want to say the wrong thing fear conflict, or simply do not know how to maintain the boss to friend ratio.

This can’t be avoided. Thus, the good news is that most communication skills can be learned over time with deliberate and intentional practice. Good communicators develop a sense of psychological safety within their team through conversations and the exchange of ideas and stories. A couple ways to cope with this is to master the art of small talk and to develop relationships through personal interaction:

Master the Small Talk

Small talk is not something that comes easily for a lot of people. Have a plan for how to conquer those awkward situations. The “FORD” method helps:

  • Family
  • Occupation
  • Recreation
  • Dreams

Have some topics that you can easily turn to conversation, find a common ground, and tell stories about your experiences.

Get Personal

People relate to others when we let our guard down and talk about our personal lives. Find ways to interact on a personal level without going too deep. Volunteer personal information that you are comfortable talking about and see if they reciprocate. Follow up with any information they share with questions that start with “who,” “what,” or “where.” For example, if a co-worker shares that they are going out of town for the weekend, ask “who is travelling with you?”, “what are you looking forward to the most about your trip?”, or “where are you travelling?”