schmooze: v. To converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.
[mini-rant] I appreciate the importance and necessity of maintaining cordial professional relationships in the workplace. Really, I do. The world of work is a nicer place because of it. But I would rather you snarl in my face and spit on my shoes than have you put on that phony-assed smile, insincere chuckle (at your own damned jokes), and treat me like I am your long lost buddy, when only last week you stormed out of the room and called me a pointy-headed bureaucrat because you didn't get your way. I do not suffer from amnesia. Let's not pretend I do.[/rant off]
I confess I am by nature an introvert and sometimes have difficulty making small talk, especially with strangers. That said, there are times when I just have to bite the bullet, put me head down and force myself to seem like I'm happy to talk to someone when I feel rather more like retiring to my cave. As far as others' schmoozing efforts go, I appreciate it when folks like to inquire into how my family is doing and say a bit about their own (yep, Junior's starting his first week of full time school and seems really excited...). To me this goes further towards establishing human bonds than yucking it up over the foibles of one's professional competitors or (much much worse) actually broaching the subject of politics . Even if my own political views align with theirs that's going to be uncomforrtable for me.
How about you, are you a schmoozer by nature? What types of things do you find yourself discussing with developers, contractors, engineers, etc in the minutes before the meeting starts? Any particularly bad schmoozing tales you care to share?