Industry News

What's your perspective on "small talk" (catching up on personal details when conducting business)?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How do you handle a situation where someone backs out of a commitment they made to do some work for you?

  • I love it: it gives me a chance to connect on a personal level: 37.22%
  • It's OK: I enjoy it, but it does have its limits: 49.32%
  • I'm not a fan: I don't have time to spend on it: 8.93%
  • I hate it: Stick to business, please: 4.53%

Small talk has its limits. Clearly a large portion of respondents like small talk for connecting on a personal level. But do note that it does have its limits. After a certain point, business must move on. If you're one of those folks in the 13% who don't like it, consider trying it and connecting at least a little bit with team members and colleagues, as many of them do value it. If you find yourself to be a bit of a talker, monitor your audience for those nonverbal cues that it's time to wrap it up and move on to business. A large portion of folks tire of it after a certain point.

Bottom line: Small talk matters because relationships matter, but you have to keep the amount of small talk within reason.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN -- the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West Point graduate and author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."