Small talk is powerful because trust is felt.
Connecting is the first step. It’s the “chat” before the “talk”. It’s a chance to re-connect in safe conversation. Before someone can process their concern, they have to feel trust. Connecting relaxes the pressure on the conversation. It can ease tension, before easing into the dialogue. Express your interest in safer topics to talk about first, and don’t rush to “the point”. You’re not wasting time talking about the weather or how work has been going, you’re re-establishing rapport. When they’re ready to bring up their concern, they will.