There are two kinds of people - those that can make small talk, bringing up subject after subject and tagging sentences to create a fluid conversation, and those who cannot think of one thing to say other than "great weather" and who cannot connect to the response of the person to create another one liner that builds a conversation.  My jobs over the years have included tons of small talk.  In fact, in many, small talk is what builds clientele or customer service.  Now, for me anyway, small talk is much like blinking - it occurs without me thinking through what to say, how to say it, responding to their response to carry the conversation deeper and make it flow.  Humorously (as I did win the Cherry family funniest person away) I told a friend the other day, "Small talk is like foreplay.  You can skip it and possibly get what you want in the relationship/interaction/business deal, or you can use small talk as a vehicle to connect/win/pull the person in - to disarm and warm them, make them feel valued.  Small talk gets you to the mountain usually:)"  Having known some that struggle to make small talk, I found that there are "Small Talk" websites that give categories of sentences to begin with.  Those sites have hundreds of starter statements, questions, comments that are intended to spark conversation.  "This weather is amazing", is a sentence that people use and can be generic to fit into both crappy and gorgeous, hot and cold weather conditions.  It's a little lame to me, but better than nothing.  What the sites don't teach is how to tag onto the next question or comment to create ultimately a conversation.  I think anyone can create a one-liner comment or question to start, but it takes the gift of conversation to be able to move across the interaction board with your red checker piece to jump their black pieces and end up in their world, connecting-building a bridge to them.  My theory for non-small talkers is this; don't worry so much about what you say but that you say something.  Concentrate on your ultimate goal of making the other person feel valued and connected instead of concentrating on subject matter, the questions you need to ask.   Small talk isn't necessarily just a filler of dead silence and time.  It opens up a world of connection that holds the power to build business, customer service and ultimately humanity.  We all need value, interest, and affirmation.  It's amazing how, "Don't you just love sunny days" can spark something that can lead to so many things.  Concentrate on the person, give them attention, ask them questions to get them to talk back to you and don't over think it.  I have been known to start small talk with someone and before you know it they let their guard down and tell me something fairly personal, their life story or begin to relax as the wall goes down.  Small talk can be used too as a weapon of disarmament - deflection so to speak in volatile situations to redirect and value the person through a complaint, a crisis or break through the wall of distrust.  So, tomorrow spend some time in conversation foreplay - it will take you amazing places in business and relationships with people.

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