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Building Small Talk Skills: A Fundamental Step in Social-Emotional Learning

Building Small Talk Skills: A Fundamental Step in Social-Emotional Learning


Small talk is an essential skill that aids in cultivating social relationships and fostering a sense of community. By engaging in small talk, we acknowledge the presence of others and show our interest in their wellbeing. This simple yet profound communication act is often overlooked but is integral to effective Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).

No-Prep Activity

Let’s do an exercise called “Catch and Release”. In this spontaneous activity, students are paired up and encouraged to have a brief exchange of small talk, focusing on common areas such as weather, recent events, or their day. No materials or extensive preparations are needed. Just let the students catch a topic and release their thoughts. After a few minutes, you can randomly switch partners, ensuring each student gets the opportunity to interact with different peers.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think small talk is important?
  • Can you share an instance where small talk made you feel included or excluded?
  • How can small talk help in understanding others’ emotions or situations?
  • What challenges have you faced while making small talk and how did you overcome them?

Related Skills

Building on small talk, students can further develop skills such as active listening, empathy, interpersonal communication, and the ability to perceive and respect others’ emotions. These skills not only enhance their social interactions but also contribute significantly to their Social-Emotional Learning journey.

Next Steps

The ability to make small talk is a key element of social connectivity, and the journey to achieving it can be an enjoyable and rewarding one. We encourage you to explore more about this and many other critical social-emotional skills. Sign up now to receive free samples and resources to further enrich your students’ SEL journey.


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