Making Small Talk with the Boss’s Spouse

Depending on how clever and eloquent you are: making small talk with the boss’s wife may be good for your career. Here are a few pointers that Matt Villano offered in his Career Couch article.
1. Assume that whatever you say to the boss’s spouse will get back to the boss. Don’t be a kiss up but you may want to filter your comments carefully as many bosses rely on their husbands or wives to give them feedback about everyone they meet!

2. What kinds of topics are acceptable to discuss with the boss’s wife or husband?
Keep it light and I always try to discover what the spouse is passionate about, once you’ve found some common ground you can have a more relaxed and meaningful conversation. As usual, religion and politics-save it for your drinking buddies!

3. At what point does ordinary conversation become inappropriate?
The usual culprits involving office gossip, sex and off-color jokes are still the biggest pit falls to avoid. If you are starting to feel uncomfortable excuse yourself politely by saying something like: “excuse me, I’ve got to speak to Steve before he leaves. I enjoyed our conversation.”

4. Should you ever discuss your boss’s personal life with his spouse? Best practice is really to stay clear of this unless the boss directs you to-but use plenty of discretion and don’t put yourself in the middle of something.

5. Is there any danger in getting to know the boss’s spouse?
Yes, you know the dangers here! It can also be a positive experience and experienced networkers have been know to optimize this to the max. Make sure you practice your networking skills so these opportunities can benefit your career as well.

Steve Mertz
Small Talk is Good!

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