Small talk in the title refer to the small questions or words that are culturally used in preserving and maintaining relations among people.
The normal small talk are as follows
How are you?
How is your health?
Happy married life.
I am deeply saddened by the news of your brother passing…. etc.,
Actually, all these are more relevant in case of relatives, extended family and personal relations. But, I observed that lots of people in academia network also does the same.
Is there any purpose in small talk? Is not engaging in small talk an improper etiquette?
Consider the situation in which a lab mate underwent a life event and everyone in the lab is wishing or showing condolence for the same. Is it improper to not care about it as it is an personal level or non-academic achievement?