Small talk is one of God’s greatest gifts as it serves two very important purposes: creating a welcoming environment for others and meeting people who will become important to us. In doing these things, we learn to be more like Christ through the simplest of actions.
As mentioned, the first purpose of small talk is that is enables us to create a friendly environment that is welcoming to people God loves. Throughout the Bible, God’s people are challenged to be kind to strangers and generous to foreigners.
In Deuteronomy 10:19, Moses instructed the Israelites to “love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” In 1 Kings 8:43, Solomon asked God at the dedication of the temple to bless those who were foreigners “so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name … ” In fact, God’s love of “strangers” is what opened the door for us to know and love Him, “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ … without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13) When you are skilled at small talk, you are partnering with God to love those who are currently strangers.
Finding Friends, Mentors And More
The second purpose of small talk is positioning you to meet the most significant people in your life. Every relationship begins as an acquaintance, but you can never predict where they will end up. Some will never be any more than an acquaintance. A few of them will become the trusted friends, mentors, colleagues or even a soulmate that helps determine the quality of your life. Discovering these people of value requires that you meet a lot of individuals. I’ve not seen it verified, but in my experience, you have to meet about 100 people for every trusted friend you discover.
How To Make The Most Of Small Talk
Since you can’t tell at first if the next person you meet is going to be weird or wonderful, it is helpful to develop a routine for engaging in small talk with people who are new in your life. The best way to get an accurate impression of others is to ask simple questions about them. People love to talk about themselves and they can’t help but reveal much about themselves through their body language, tone of voice and facial expressions.
As they talk about themselves, you will form an initial impression of how healthy this person is. If you determine this individual would be a distraction in your life, you can keep the conversation very simple and limit future contact. If your first impression is positive, however, you can continue the conversation and look for other opportunities to interact.
You don’t have to be spontaneous with the questions you come up with. You can actually ask the same questions of everyone you meet. As you think about meeting new people, decide ahead of time that you will ask these five questions when you meet someone new:
- What is your name?
- How long have you been a part of this organization/church/group? (Never ask, “Are you new here?” If they are new, they are already feeling awkward about it. If they aren’t, you will look out of touch.)
- Where do you work or go to school?
- Who are the members of your family?
- What was life like where you grew up?
In my experience, these questions make others feel important and provide me with clarity. It may feel like small talk, but these small steps can have a big impact in your life.