Although “small talk” is often dismissed as trifling and superficial communication, the ability to converse comfortably with potential relational partners in initial interpersonal encounters is foundational to building closer relationships. In this assignment, students enhance their interpersonal communication competence through the application of six small talk guidelines in two peer-to-peer conversations and in a capstone conversation with the instructor one-on-one. This assignment is appropriate for a variety of communication courses, including the basic course, interpersonal communication, and courses in professional communication, as it develops students’ skills in active listening, self-disclosure, nonverbal immediacy, and anxiety/uncertainty management in interpersonal communication with strangers.
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McKay-Semmler, K., & Semmler, S. (2013). The Art of Making Conversation: Learning the Skills Small Talk. Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota Journal, 40, 48-55.