LESSON 2: SMALL TALK in the USA and in the UK TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY

NETWORKING

SMALL TALK in the USA and in the UK  TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY

 

Pobierz lekcję w pliku PDF

 

WARM UP

THINK ABOUT SMALL TALK.

  • What is SMALL TALK for you?
  • Is SMALL TALK important? Why?

 

READING

SMALL TALK IN THE UK

Small talk is the fuel that makes social encounters run smoothly. The British – who are resistant to intrusive questioning, prying remarks and direct interrogations – are very comfortable with small talk.Completely safe topic areas are: the weather (inevitably); your route (though avoid becoming a motorway bore); your surroundings (admiring the garden, the view, the decor); general  news (but keep it non-political); the wellbeing of mutual friends and acquaintances; children (if you have any); sport (no boasting). Asking someone „How do you know [your host]?” is an acceptable ice-breaker, but asking ‚What do you do?’ can sometimes be seen as too direct and intrusive (a circumlocution such as „Do you work with xxxx?” is more acceptable).

Areas to be avoided are: age (it’s considered rude to ask someone’s age); appearance or weight (too personal, unless it’s a generalised compliment – „you look well”); money (it’s absolutely fatal to ask how much something cost or how much someone earns); relationships (could be seen as a pick-up); politics (too nosy); religion (potentially controversial); complaints, e.g. about the food, the seating etc. (offensive).

In general British conversation will run very smoothly if you avoid direct questions, and opt for oblique evasions and general comments. Once you’ve learned to decode small talk, you’ll be surprised how revealing it is.

Source: http://www.debretts.com/etiquette/british-behaviour/r-to-s/small-talk.aspx

THE ART OF AMERICAN SMALL TALK

Small talk is a must-have skill when trying to get a job. Networking is essential and learning the art of small talk will build your confidence and make them remember you. (?)First, you must say goodbye to shyness. You need to be open to talking to anyone! You will feel uncomfortable and a little weird, but that is part of the process of changing your normal behavior and stretching out of your comfort zone. This skill will allow you to meet more people, find more opportunities and become more successful.

Use online resources to find events, and give yourself goals for those events. Here?s how to turn your small talk conversations into job offers. (?)

What do you talk about?

When you start a conversation with someone you?ve never met, it?s important to begin with light topics?topics that couldn?t possibly start an argument or cause controversy. Your goal of every conversation should be to find that mutual interest, something that you can use to build a connection with this stranger (and not antagonize him).  Too often, I observe people walk directly up to another person and say, ?Hi, what do you do for work?? It is best not to start a conversation this way. You can discuss professions, perhaps not right at the start.  People hear that question all the time, and it isn?t that memorable. Try to discuss something more fun and personal.

Any of these topics are appropriate small talk topics to discuss with Americans: Travel, Movies, Music, Theatre, Books, Food, Entertainment, Sports, Travel.

You might think that these topics are more useful for social settings when you?re trying to make friends, but it?s not true. Talking about these topics at professional events is normal and a great way to form a business connection.

There are many other topics but those are some ideas to start you off with. I especially suggest that you try discussing your travel stories. Most people enjoy traveling, be it to their cabin in the summer, or to exotic foreign cities. In that vein, any stories from abroad will be new and interesting to most and provide them with useful information. (?)

Read more on the Simply Hired Blog: http://blog.simplyhired.com/2013/04/the-art-of-american-small-talk.html#ixzz2fYfm7qh9

Understanding the text

Answer the questions below.

  1. What general differences do you find between British and American ways of making small talk?

Complete the chart below.

Small talk topics in the USA

Small talk topics in the UK

  • Travelling
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Books
  • Food
  • Entertainment
  • Family
  • Sports
  • The weather
  • Your route
  • Your surroundings
  • General  news
  • The wellbeing of mutual friends and acquaintances
  • Children
  • Sports

 

  • Look at the topics. Can you see any similarities?
  • What are popular small topics in Poland?
  • What topics are to be avoided in the UK and why? Is it the same in Poland?
  • Which topic is especially recommended to start off a conversation in the USA?

 

 

 

EXTENDING YOUR VOCABULARY

Exercise 1:

In the texts above find the synonym expressions for phrases or words in the chart.

 

remarks about private facts about a person

?

be resistant

for example an object that many people wants to own

?

opt for

cause disagreement

?

run smoothly

not willing to accept something

?

prying remarks

to choose to take or not to take a particular course of action

?

direct interrogations

a straightforward  question

?

a must-have

bilateral interest

?

mutual interest

function or work without any problem or difficulty

?

cause controversy

 

Click here, to see the key!

function or work without any problem or difficulty

?

run smoothly
not willing to accept something

?

 be resistant
remarks about private facts about a person

?

prying remarks
a straightforward  question

?

direct interrogations
to choose to take or not to take a particular course of action

?

opt for
for example an object that many people wants to own

?

a must-have
cause disagreement

?

cause controversy

bilateral interest

?

mutual interest

 

 

Exercise 2

Complete the sentences with the words from the previous exercise.

smoothly

mutual

cause

opt

prying

resistant

direct

must

 

 

  1. Why are you so  to change?
  2. Lead is added to fuel to make car engines run more .
  3. I’m sick of you into my personal life!
  4. It was a very response.
  5. Theirs was a partnership based on  respect, trust and understanding.
  6. Most people  to have the operation.
  7. Drinking and driving is one of the most common of traffic accidents.
  8. The iPod quickly established itself as a  device.
Click here, to see the key!

  1. Why are you so resistant to change?
  2. Lead is added to fuel to make car engines run more smoothly.
  3. I’m sick of you prying into my personal life!
  4. It was a very direct response.
  5. Theirs was a partnership based on mutual respect, trust and understanding.
  6. Most people opt to have the operation.
  7. Drinking and driving is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents.
  8. The iPod quickly established itself as a must-have device.

 

Exercise 3

Match the words with their antonyms.

smoothly

?

abstain

mutual

?

susceptible

cause

?

ambiguous

opt

?

ignoring

prying

?

unshared

resistant

?

result

direct

?

uneasily

 

Click here, to see the key!

smoothly

?

uneasily

mutual

?

unshared

cause

?

result

opt

?

abstain

prying

?

ignoring

resistant

?

susceptible

direct

?

ambiguous


 

PRACTICE NEW VOCABULARY

Answer the questions using the suggested words in brackets.

1. Why should you avoid asking people in Britain about their age or weight?

(prying)

2. What impression might cause a question about a relationship?

(direct)

3. What can happen when you start a conversation about religion?

(cause controversy)

4. What can happen to a conversation when you start complaining?

(stop running smoothly)

 

 image8

PART TWO

TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY

Exercise 1

Complete the small talk dialogue with phrases below.

 

  • I was recommended a nice small pub nearby. Shall we go there?
  • I can imagine that!
  • No, not really.
  • Oh, interesting. Do you travel a lot?

 

Dialogue

  • Nice weather, isn?t it?
  • Yes, indeed.
  • Are you doing anything after the conference?
  • .
  • Do you fancy a drink?
  • Yes, why not.
  • By the way what do you do?
  • I am an IT specialist at ABB Data. And you?
  • I am a contract negotiator for WorldTravel.
  • ?
  • Oh, yes I do. I have to admit I really love it! It?s my job and my hobby at the same time 🙂!
  • That?s great! I love my job too, but sitting at the desk constantly can be daunting sometimes.
  • !
  • And how do you like it here? Do you find the conference interesting?
  • Oh yes, I really enjoy it! And you?
  • Me too.
  • ?
  • Sure, why not!

 

 

Click here, to see the key!

  • Nice weather, isn?t it?
  • Yes, indeed.
  • Are you doing anything after the conference?
  • No, not really.
  • Do you fancy a drink?
  • Yes, why not.
  • By the way what do you do?
  • I am an IT specialist at ABB Data. And you?
  • I am a contract negotiator for WorldTravel.
  • Oh, interesting. Do you travel a lot?
  • Oh, yes I do. I have to admit I really love it! It?s my job and my hobby at the same time 🙂!
  • That?s great! I love my job too, but sitting at the desk constantly can be daunting sometimes.
  • I can imagine that!
  • And how do you like it here? Do you find the conference interesting?
  • Oh yes, I really enjoy it! And you?
  • Me too.
  • I was recommended a nice small pub nearby. Shall we go there?
  • Sure, why not!

 

Exercise 2

Order the phrases to the proper column.

In my free time ? I studied at ?
I come from ? My family comes from ?
My job is ? (great / difficult / easy, exciting / daunting / boring / extremely interesting, etc.) I?m a ?
I am in charge of ? I work for ?
I went to school in ? I often go / travel to ?.
I?m responsible for ? I graduated from ?
I live in ? We have many branches in ?
My duties involve ? I have a friend in ?
My hobby is ? My wife / husband / partner is from ?
My job is ? When I get a bit of free time I enjoy ?
My office is located in ?

 

Talking about you and your life

Talking about jobs and work

 

 

Click here, to see the key!

Talking about you and your life

Talking about jobs and work

  • I come from ?I went to school in ?I studied at ?I graduated from ?
  • I live in ?
  • My family comes from ?
  • I have a friend in ?
  • My wife / husband / partner is from ?
  • When I get a bit of free time I enjoy ?
  • In my free time ?
  • My hobby is ?
  • I often go / travel to ?.

 

  • I?m a ?I work for ?My job is ?I?m responsible for ?
  • My duties involve ?
  • I am in charge of ?
  • My job is ? (great / difficult / easy, exciting / daunting / boring / extremely interesting, etc.)
  • My office is located in ?
  • We have many branches in ?
  • Our headquarters (HQ) is/ are ?