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marco_esquandolis's avatar

What do you think about "small talk"?

Asked by marco_esquandolis (71points) January 14th, 2010

I work at a job where I see about 30 customers per day for about 5 – 10 minutes each. Most of the time the only type of conversation we have is “small talk”, like how the weather is or how their day has been. It usually starts with “How are you doing?”, but the only thing is I don’t really care how they are doing because in 5 minutes I will never see this person again. I know its polite and its certainly part of my job to keep this customer happy so I just nod and smile like I really care about what they are saying.

Do you like to “small talk”?

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16 Answers

lilikoi's avatar


DominicX's avatar

Depends. Most of the time it’s just forced and phony and doesn’t go anywhere. But I’ve been in situations where small talk turned into a much more interesting conversation. You never know. As for situations with cashiers and such, I don’t mind it. I expect it there.

Pcrecords's avatar

Small talk is cool. It’s where big talk is born.

When your having your brief chats just remember that may be the only conversation someone has that day.

I don’t think you should pretend you care, find something in the conversation that makes you give a hoot.

You can always try to steer it towards something your interested in, that always helps.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

Well, when I’m the cashier, I usually just ask them how their meal was (work in restaurant), and then if they are talkative, I’ll talk to them, if not, then oh well. Doesn’t matter to me, I don’t really mind it.

Leo's avatar

I find small talk to be essential it buffers the immediate with warm fuzzies. For example lets look at a transaction without small talk: the person would walk in and say “gimme that big red one over there” paid and wouldn’t say anything else at all even thank you. You would get tired of that real fast.
Too much small talk and you get to feeling like all fluff and no substance. What is truly needed is just the right amount of small talk: “Hi there. I’m looking to buy a big red thingamagigy, I see you have one right there. Yup thats the one. Ok, well thanks a bunch!”
See? That’s not too much small talk but it adequately buffered the necessary words.
Perhaps if you could get in the habit of smiling at them and saying very little, but what you said was nice to hear: “Thank you, – Come again, – Have a nice day, – Yes, it is a nice day isn’t it; you could over time teach them to cut down on the small talk with you.
Good luck.

mcbealer's avatar

hate it suck at it hate it suck at it yeah

Tenpinmaster's avatar

I think its a critical part of customer service. A lot of customers like small talk because it shows that you have some interest about them and how they are doing. Some people find it annoying though. Im not much for a small talker, i Just like to get what i need and move on but I have learned to push it into my daily work life.

Factotum's avatar

Small talk is vital to making transactions of whatever kind into something comfortable and human. The much maligned ‘how about that weather’ is one of the best conversation openers ever since a person can respond with some intensity with little chance of starting a fight.

Darwin's avatar

Small talk is one of the most valuable tools to use to create repeat customers. I don’t care if I never see the customer again, but if I can use a bit of small talk so that they walk out of the store smiling, they are likely to come back as well as tell their friends.

Making small talk is a lot like wandering through a bookstore, reading the blurbs on the backs of the books until you find one you want to read. All of them are interesting in their own way and the experience can be quite pleasant. You don’t read every single book cover to cover, but you do learn a little about each one, and you sometimes find one that is worth keeping.

HTDC's avatar

In general I hate small talk, it’s pointless to me. I feel so relieved to get out of the situation, but I guess it’s what normal people do.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I abhor small talk.

Fortunately, I’m allowed to wear headphones at work, so most of the small talk bypasses me.

Then when I do get caught in the “small talk vortex”, a few non-committal grunts is usually enough to discourage further “communication”.

Some folks you have to chase away. Asking me how I feel about the terrible weather outside will get my standard response of, “I don’t know…I’ve been inside all day”. 2 or 3 similar responses usually does the trick.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I do.I have met some of the most interesting people that way.Good and bad .

OpryLeigh's avatar

I have a similar job where I talk to customers for a short amount of time and a lot of these conversations are padded out with “how are you?”, “horrible weather we’re having”, “did you have a nice weekend” etc etc. I’ve never really thought about it enough for it to bother me, it’s part of my job and providing I get my paycheck at the end of the month I can’t complain.

downtide's avatar

I talk to customers on the phone but we have a time limit on calls and so we’re discouraged from making smalltalk. I still do though. It helps to build rapport with a customer and it puts them at ease. Relaxed customers are more likely to buy.

Silhouette's avatar

It’s not my favorite thing but as you said it’s part of the job. I like paychecks.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@downtide yay another customer service person that can sympathize with me. Small talk is important with rapport!

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