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Stop Talking about the Weather! Getting Beyond Staff Small Talk

Updated: May 25, 2023

OMG, I loooove that scarf!

Hey, did you hear? The Bengals got a new coach!

Ugh, the Brent Spence Bridge was such a mess today...

Let’s face it: small talk can be cringe-worthy. I mean, if you think about it, people often spend 50 hours a week together and rarely scratch below the surface!

Some people might thrive on office chit-chat to get through a busy day, but others (like most introverts) hate small talk!

But what if everyone — introverts and extroverts and everyone in-between — could elevate conversations to create more meaningful work relationships?

Here are a few conversation tips for getting people talking.

Questions, please!

One common problem for introverts is not “feeling” seen and heard. You don’t have to go through an elaborate process or play a crazy game to make sure that they feel included, valued and connected to the company and the rest of the team.

Simply having a set of simple but relevant questions handy and making a point of creating space for every single person to speak in a meeting can be key. It can be as simple as creating a couple of personal questions and a couple of business / job-related questions that you are interested in hearing their perspective about.

When you reframe your own thoughts into a genuine interest in another person, be it personal or professional, and then actively listen to and incorporate their answers, you show them that they are valued.

Simple as that.

And if you want to spice things up a bit, here are three ideas for icebreakers you’ll want to try out at your next meetings!

Employee Roast

Pick one employee per week and have each person on the team ask that person a question. Sit back and watch connections be made. Who knew you had two people passionate about the International Greyhounds Association?

Pulse Check

Before starting a meeting, go around and ask everyone to give an audible thumbs up, down, or in-between on their overall mood and stress level.

We all come to work with baggage.

It can be advantageous to know the mental state that each individual employee is at when they come to the meeting. Tell them that you aren't going into the details but just want to get an overall vibe of the group morale for the day. Look for patterns.

Be sure to follow up on any "thumbs-down" in a private conversation later. This exercise can be especially effective in organizations that have high-stress levels, such as nonprofits that work with challenging client groups.

Two Truths & A Lie

This is a great drinking game AND a fun way to start a meeting...just not at the same time!

Pick a person each week to tell Two Truths & A Lie about themselves. The other members guess which is the lie. The best part about this is that it never gets old — the more you know each other, the more stealthy you have to be!


Any of the above ideas can be used with teams that meet virtually, or around the good ole' fashioned conference room donuts required!

I hope this inspires you to get talking and listening on a deeper level so that you can really get to know your staff and colleagues, and they can get to know each other! And even better, you can all have a little fun while you're at it!

I have a gazillion tricks like this in my hat...this is only the tip of the iceberg! For more tips on employee engagement, please reach out — I’d love to chat!

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