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The mighty power of small talk

People disparage it as superficial, but they are wrong, says Lizzie Enfield. Small talk is the foundation of some of our biggest conversations, and a skill we can all master

The work-related Christmas party was at a city hotel and I took the lift to the third floor. Inside was a man I did not know and, for a moment, we stood awkwardly, not acknowledging each other. I noticed he was wet and asked if he got caught in the rain.

‘I got soaked,’ he smiled, ‘but you seem to have dodged it…’

‘I came via the secret tunnel that connects the hotel to the park,’ I filled him in on the bit of trivia I had gleaned while looking up directions to the venue, ‘so Victorian guests could go directly outside for their morning constitutionals!’

He laughed, the doors opened and we set o to mingle. Later, I bumped into him at the bar and we started chatting. It turns out he was the travel editor of a magazine I’d always wanted to write for and he o ered me work. A fly on the wall might have dismissed the idle banter in the lift as small talk, but it was more than that – it was the forging of a connection that led to something more.

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