Sometimes Small Talk is Anything But Small

by Gilda Bonanno

I was in the elevator of an office building recently with someone I didn't know. It was lunchtime and we both had food trays. I tried to make small talk and said, "The elevator always seems slower when you're hungry." He nodded. Encouraged, I continued the small talk, "If the elevator gets stuck, that's okay, because at least we've got food and water." He laughed.

When the elevator stopped, he got off and started to walk away. Then he turned and said, "Thanks for being cheerful. I needed that." And he smiled.

I felt great - in just a few seconds, I had made a connection with another human being. My conversation had not been hysterically funny or deeply insightful. In face, it had been almost trite... but I had chosen to speak to him rather than ignore him as I might have done with a stranger on an elevator. And as a result, he had been able to laugh.

Sometimes human communication can be so simple and yet, so meaningful. It can happen in the checkout line at the grocery store when we make eye contact with the cashier or if we take a moment after we ask someone the obligatory question "how are you?" to actually listen for an answer. It doesn't take much effort for us to connect with someone else for a moment by smiling, making eye contact or listening.

Sometimes small talk is anything but small.