In Part 1 we established that chats at the water cooler do indeed still happen and in Part II we looked at the unexpected benefits that arise from such chats.

In Part III of this series, we address what makes for engaging conversation? Here are five useful tips which should help you navigate water cooler conversations.

These apply to both in-person and virtual (where applicable) conversations.

Positivity is Key

Water cooler moments are a chance to unwind and connect. Focus on positive topics and avoid work gripes or negativity. This fosters a more enjoyable and upbeat work environment.

Be Curious (to a point)

Instead of just talking about your own interests, ask questions about others’ hobbies and passions. Not only might you be surprised at what you learn but this could potentially lead to forming a better connection with co-workers in other departments you may not normally engage with.

Listen Well

Show genuine interest in what your colleagues are saying. Ask follow-up questions and avoid turning the conversation back to yourself.

Become a Conversational Catalyst

If you find a lull in the chat, come prepared with conversation starters. Share an interesting fact you learned, a funny anecdote, or ask about a recent event. This keeps the conversation flowing and shows you’re engaged.

Read the Room

If someone seems busy or disinterested, don’t force a conversation, however, if you see colleagues lingering at the water cooler station, say hello. Just be mindful of keeping the conversation concise and respectful of everyone’s time.

By using these tips, you can have engaging and appropriate water cooler chats that could well help build camaraderie with your colleagues.