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Why Realtors© mastering the art of small talk is so important
A friend of mine shared with me how he really struggled with social gatherings and events. He just didn’t have the gift of “small talk” and didn’t know how to do it well. The problem was he specialized in luxury real estate and his client base was high net worth individuals who loved to gather in social circles. He was always being invited to social functions and fundraising events but dreaded having to work so hard at making conversation with these people. He shared how he discovered a simple and powerful technique that changed his “small talk” dilemma for life which in turn dramatically impacted his business for the better. A simple acronym called F.O.R.D. which stands for Family… Occupation… Recreation and Dreams. Whenever he came face to face with a client for the first time and one of those awkward social “small talk” moments. F.O.R.D. came to his rescue.
1.) Family – Where did they grow up? Where is their family now? Do they have any siblings? Do they have any children? Now focus on their answers… ask more questions… sit back and listen.
2.) Occupation – What do they do for a living? How long have they been in that occupation? What did they do before? Now focus on their answers… ask more questions… sit back and listen.
3.) Recreation – What do they do for fun? Hobbies? Passions? Something they always wanted to try or do? Now focus on their answers… ask more questions… sit back and listen (beginning to see a pattern here?)
4.) Dreams – What is on your bucket list? Your dreams? Goals? Aspirations? Now focus on their answers… ask more questions… sit back and listen
This simple but powerful tool called F.O.R.D. would help engage his clients, deepen his relationship with them and show he cares. This powerful technique then sets the stage for him to share what he does for a living and causes the other party to be receptive. It is also a powerful “confidence booster” to shine amongst people rather than dread the whole experience.
Small talk has earned a bad rap, because to many people it represents meaningless and trivial conversation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A recent study published in Communication Research has found that those who engage in any of seven types of quality conversation experience increased well-being and happiness, alongside a reduction in their stress levels. Small talk has its benefits as well; a 2021 study published in the Academy of Management journal found that, despite the distraction caused by engaging in small talk, “employees who engaged in more small talk during their workday reported increased positive social emotions, which translated into greater [organizational citizenship behaviors] and well-being at the end of the day.” Here are some more ideas for how to make small talk but increased well-being and positivity aren’t the only benefits of small talk. Engaging in small talk can open the door to interesting and meaningful connections—if you are aware and listening. These tips can help take the stress out of small talk and create a quality conversation:
1. Get your mind right. If you spend the week anticipating and worrying because you know you will feel uncomfortable, you’ve set yourself up for failure. Remember why you are going—to celebrate a friend on their special day, to meet others who share your interest or to connect with your coworkers.
2. Decide who you’d like to meet before you go. Look at who else will be there and plan to meet those who might share something in common with you. This might be someone who knows a mutual friend, a fellow baseball fan or a business owner living your dream.
3. Read a lot. The more you read, the more trivia or facts you pick up that can turn into conversation material. It can be online or in books and journals, but it can help drive a conversation with someone you don’t know much about.
4. Be interested in things to be interesting. I find people have nothing to say because they don’t seem to have any interests. That makes them uninteresting. However, people with hobbies and interests always seem to have a topic or an opinion to share, and they can use that as a launching point to get someone else involved in the discussion.
5. Make a game out of making small talk. Trick your mind into making it seem easier and more fun by playing a game with yourself. Commit to at least an hour. Plan to meet at least five people. Challenge yourself to learn two new things. This mental shift can help tame the anxiety and make the conversation more fun.
6. Relax and be present in the conversation. Rather than try to plan what you will say next, relax and focus on what the other person is saying. Listen. Be present in the conversation and the other person will notice. They will feel appreciated, and the conversation will flow naturally.
7. Take responsibility for meeting others. Don’t wait for others to approach you. Say hello first. If you always expect others to make the first move, you’ll be disappointed. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. World renowned communicator Dale Carnegie said “The world’s greatest conversationalist, is someone who says little or nothing.” Isn’t it nice when someone says to you I feel like I could talk to you forever or I feel like we have known each other for some time now.
Strength and courage,