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Small Talk & Teabreaks

David, Suw, and Stowe are extolling the virtues of chit chat at the moment. And I completely agree that it is a virtue we need to hold on to. But the tea-break is not just about small talk. In fact, small talk is not just about small talk. It is as much about the ceremony of small talk as it is the content.

Last February I pointed to some research indicating that the tea break addressed four seemingly key elements of groupwork: social glue, relaxing, structuring work and helping. Stowe puts quite a burden of expectation on social tools, though, when he says that

"social tools are the only hope we have of holding on to the annealing benefits of small talk-ish interactions."
I think he's right to worry - very much so - but do blogs, IM and the like cannot cover all four elements?

Hmm. Not sure at all. Let's say you and your boss go for a pint after work - who buys? What does that imply (if anything)? How does that affect your working relationship? Allowing the chit chat to happen is a great, valuable wonderful thing. But there are ways of making it happen - tea breaks, beers after work and the like - that gain much of their value not just from the chit and the chat, but from the ceremony.

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» Big Talk on Small Talk and Social Tools from Get Real
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