LessonTricks for building rapport.

If I mention “small talk” what’s your first reaction?

STOP- Don’t close this up!

We need to talk about it.

For many people in IT, small talk feels unnecessary and a waste to time.

But remember – we are thinking about what is in it for them, not us. And many managers like small talk.

The first step in developing rapport is really simple – just smile more. No small talk needed. If this is something you need to do more of, I suggest this is your goal for the week.


If you really want to push the boundaries, you can also say good morning/good afternoon/hello

If you’ve already mastered this, the next stage is to work on your small talk.

There is a simple FORMula for developing small talk skills.

Any of the four topics can open up the conversation easily:

F is for FAMILY – you can ask questions about children, and pets – both of these are popular topics. If you remember the names of offspring and pets you are doing well! Take notes when you leave the conversation to remind yourself for the next time you talk.

It’s a good idea generally to follow the person’s lead around divulging information. Some people may be going through a tricky family situation- if they start to vent (hopefully they won’t!), just nod and listen.

O is for OCCUPATION -You already work with them, but you can ask them about aspects of their role. Avoid office politics (again, if they vent, just smile and nod rather than contribute)

R is for RECREATION – This is a safe topic for most people. Most people have a hobby so when you find out about one, ask them about it,and get them talking. Popular hobbies may beĀ ones you have no interest in. You don’t need to fake an interest in the topic – just focus on enjoying listening to their passion and enjoyment.

M is for MONEY – This is not about talking about incomes – but topics such as the rise of property prices, or interest rates, or rentals, or anything around how we use our money is a popular and relatively safe topic.

If you have very strong views of any of these topics, it is a good idea to hear the other person’s views first before declaring them.

Where are you at in developing rapport? Which part of the challenge are you going to try?