Small talk exists in nearly every language. In Japan, it comes in the form of short grunts and nods called "aizuchi." In Persian culture, they're "taarof." In his 1923 essay, The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Language, Polish anthropologist Bronis?aw Malinowski coined the term "phatic communion" to describe small talk as "language used more for the purpose of establishing an atmosphere or maintaining social contact than for exchanging information or ideas." Whatever you call it, small talk plays a role in most cultures. And for most people, it either comes naturally or it doesn't. In fact, many of us hate it, particularly in a career context.
The world has changed so much in the last couple of decades. Technology has shifted the way we work in fundamental ways. As a result, skills that used to be highly valued in a professional context have become less important, and other skills and talents are coming into sharper focus. Professionals need to bring something to the table that can't be achieved by a machine. Traits like creative talent, an ability to multitask, and excellent interpersonal skills are becoming increasingly important. Learning a new language might give you that extra edge you've been searching for.