It’s National Talk in an Elevator Day!
Are you feeling extra chatty today? That could be because it’s National Talk in an Elevator day. Every day, elevators travel about 4.5 million miles in the US alone. Most people will walk into the car, press their floor, then turn and face the doors in silence until it’s time to disembark. Longer rides with an expected moratorium on noise and eye contact can be a bit awkward. Perhaps it’s time for us to look for ways to escape the general weirdness of elevator behavior and start using these brief snatches of time to become better communicators!
The origins of this day might be a bit murky, but various places in my Internet sleuthing tell me that the last Friday in July is to be a day of working on your conversation skills in the short period of time you spend going up or down in an elevator car. So, if you can find the courage to break out of the social norm of silently facing forward, staring at the doors, here are some ways you can Talk in an Elevator today.
Build and test your repertoire of ice-breakers
What sort of things do you typically say to break the silence? Here in Minnesota complaints about the weather are always a good place to start. You can ask someone about their weekend plans, or if they watched the latest baseball game or episode of The Bachelorette. These kinds of rote ice-breakers are fine, but for Talk in an Elevator day, let’s break the mold a bit. Try out some new material and see how it performs. The key is to ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
- What was the highlight of your day so far?
- What’s the best thing/your favorite thing to do when the weather is this hot/cold/humid/rainy?
- Are you working on anything interesting today?
- How weird would it be if we turned around and stared at the back instead of the doors. Are there any other social rules that completely baffle you?
Become a master of small talk
Once the ice has been broken it’s time to begin honing your abilities to hold a brief and non-boring conversation. Small talk is usually considered to be dull, unimportant, and even a bit cringe-worthy, so people tend to avoid it. However, a quick conversation, even if it’s only mildly mentally stimulating, can strengthen many types of relationships and lead to a better social network. Be an active listener, particularly when chatting with people you hope to spend more time with in the future. It will help you remember important details like names, hobbies, and interests – all things that would be useful in later conversations.
Respond to questions with answers that contain several pieces of information. If asked what you did over the past weekend, you could respond by saying you went to the beach. Or, you could say you went to the beach with your sister and her children. The second response opens up more routes for the conversation to follow and makes it easier for the other person to ask additional questions or tell you stories about their own nieces and nephews.
Connect, network, and grow your social circle
If you want to become popular or well-known within a group of people then small talk is a good skill to hone. It can be hard to introduce yourself and suggest a building-wide barbecue or high-stakes work project in the same conversation. Use your elevator time as an opportunity to make introductions and learn about people in your neighborhood, or higher-ups in your company.
- Be positive, be genuine
- Avoid gossip
- Ask for opinions on a current project or initiative
- Plan to plan – let them know you’d like to stop by some time to discuss your project or hear more about theirs
Improve your elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a quick, succinct pitch or proposal, so named because it can be effectively deliverer in the time it takes to ride in an elevator. If you have something that’s been kicking around in your mind for a while, today would be a great day to try to pitch it to a coworker or friend.
- Be relaxed and natural, phrase it as a conversation
- Save the details for a later meeting, keep it broad and intriguing
- Keep it short, just a sentance or two should be all you need
- End with a call-to-action – let them know what you need them to do
Once you’ve completed your speech, stop talking! Don’t give away too many details in the short pitch. Think of it more as a statement of your end goal rather than a full on proposal.
These are just a few ideas. There are plenty more ways you can strike up a conversation today. So put away the smartphone and say hello. You might make some great new connections today.
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