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Small Talk

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in Workplace Communication

Q. I’m not into small talk. But in my new job, everyone wastes time talking about personal stuff—kids, sports, hobbies, etc. This includes my boss, who’s just as chatty as anyone. My refusal to join in may make me seem aloof and cost me chances to get ahead. What should I do?

A. Chill out! Invest an extra minute or two talking about your weekend plans or listening to colleagues brag about their kids. If your boss sets the tone and encourages chatter, then you have nothing to gain by being a stick-in-the-mud. At least pretend to enjoy it. Don’t keep drifting toward the door. Plant your feet for a few minutes so that it appears you’re interested. If you’re really in a rush, say so. But follow up later so that you can’t be accused of unfriendliness.

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