LESSON 4 – Small Talk

NETWORKING

  • Talking about your country and getting information about places you visit
  • Talking about your likes and dislikes: favourite food.

 

 

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WARM UP

THINK and ANSWER

  • How do you think what?s the purpose of the small talk?
  • Read the extract from Wikipedia and try to fill in the gaps using the words from the grid. Remember to put the verbs.

avoid

mitigate

lubricate

merge

pass

signal

 

Purpose of small talk.

In spite of seeming to have little useful purpose, small talk is a bonding ritual and a strategy for managing interpersonal distance. It serves many functions in helping to define the relationships between friends, work colleagues, and new acquaintances. In particular, it helps new acquaintances to explore and categorize each other’s social position. Small talk is closely related to the need for people to maintain positive face ? to feel approved-of by those who are listening to them. It social interactions in a very flexible way, although the desired function is often dependent on the point in the conversation at which the small talk occurs:

  1. Conversation opener; When the talkers do not know each other, it allows them to show that they have friendly intentions and desire some sort of positive interaction. In a business meeting, it enables people to establish each other’s reputation and level of expertise. Where there is already a relationship between the two talkers, their small talk serves as a gentle introduction before engaging in more functional topics of conversation. It allows them to signal their own mood and to sense the mood of the other person.
  2. At the end of a conversation; Suddenly ending an exchange may risk appearing to reject the other person. Small talk can be used to that rejection, affirm the relationship between the two people, and soften the parting.
  3. Space filler to silence; in many cultures, silences between two people are usually considered uncomfortable. Tension can be reduced by starting phatic talk until a more substantial subject arises. Generally, humans find prolonged silence uncomfortable, and sometimes unbearable. This can be due to human evolutionary history as a social species, as in many other social animals silence is a communicative sign of potential danger.

In some conversations there is no specific functional or informative element at all. The following example of small talk is between two colleagues who each other in a hallway:

William: Morning, Paul.
Paul: Oh, morning, William, how are you?
William: Fine, thanks. Have a good weekend?
Paul: Yes, thanks. Catch you later.
William: OK, see you.
In this example, the elements of phatic talk at the beginning and end of the conversation have  . The entire short conversation is a space-filler. This type of discourse is often called chatter.
The need to use small talk depends upon the nature of the relationship between the people having the conversation. Couples in an intimate relationship can  their level of closeness by a lack of small talk. They can comfortably accept silence in circumstances that would be uncomfortable for two people who were only casual friends.
In workplace situations, small talk tends to occur mostly between workers on the same level. However, it can be used by managers as a way of developing the working relationships with the staff who report to them. A boss who asks their employees to work overtime may try to motivate them by using small talk to temporarily decrease their difference in status. The balance between functional conversation and small talk in the workplace depends on the context, and is also influenced by the relative power of the two speakers. It is usually the superior who defines the conversation, because they have the power to close the small talk and „get down to business.
Click here, to see the key!

Purpose of small talk.

In spite of seeming to have little useful purpose, small talk is a bonding ritual and a strategy for managing interpersonal distance. It serves many functions in helping to define the relationships between friends, work colleagues, and new acquaintances. In particular, it helps new acquaintances to explore and categorize each other’s social position. Small talk is closely related to the need for people to maintain positive face ? to feel approved-of by those who are listening to them. It lubricates social interactions in a very flexible way, although the desired function is often dependent on the point in the conversation at which the small talk occurs:

  1. Conversation opener; When the talkers do not know each other, it allows them to show that they have friendly intentions and desire some sort of positive interaction. In a business meeting, it enables people to establish each other’s reputation and level of expertise. Where there is already a relationship between the two talkers, their small talk serves as a gentle introduction before engaging in more functional topics of conversation. It allows them to signal their own mood and to sense the mood of the other person.
  2. At the end of a conversation; Suddenly ending an exchange may risk appearing to reject the other person. Small talk can be used to mitigate that rejection, affirm the relationship between the two people, and soften the parting.
  3. Space filler to avoid silence; in many cultures, silences between two people are usually considered uncomfortable. Tension can be reduced by starting phatic talk until a more substantial subject arises. Generally, humans find prolonged silence uncomfortable, and sometimes unbearable. This can be due to human evolutionary history as a social species, as in many other social animals silence is a communicative sign of potential danger.

In some conversations there is no specific functional or informative element at all. The following example of small talk is between two colleagues who pass each other in a hallway:

William: Morning, Paul.
Paul: Oh, morning, William, how are you?
William: Fine, thanks. Have a good weekend?
Paul: Yes, thanks. Catch you later.
William: OK, see you.
In this example, the elements of phatic talk at the beginning and end of the conversation have merged. The entire short conversation is a space-filler. This type of discourse is often called chatter.
The need to use small talk depends upon the nature of the relationship between the people having the conversation. Couples in an intimate relationship can signaltheir level of closeness by a lack of small talk. They can comfortably accept silence in circumstances that would be uncomfortable for two people who were only casual friends.
In workplace situations, small talk tends to occur mostly between workers on the same level. However, it can be used by managers as a way of developing the working relationships with the staff who report to them. A boss who asks their employees to work overtime may try to motivate them by using small talk to temporarily decrease their difference in status. The balance between functional conversation and small talk in the workplace depends on the context, and is also influenced by the relative power of the two speakers. It is usually the superior who defines the conversation, because they have the power to close the small talk and „get down to business.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_talk

 

  • Do you find the text interesting? Why?
  • What does the word ?pathic? mean? Have you ever come across this word?

 

DEFINITION OF PHATIC

relating to, or being speech used to share feelings or to establish a mood of sociability rather than to communicate information or ideas.

For Polish definition of phatic, check the site: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funkcja_fatyczna_j%C4%99zyka

EXTENDING YOUR VOCABULARY

Exercise 1:

Match the definitions with the words or phrases from the text.

lubricate

?

1. to make a movement or sound to give somebody a message

mitigate

?

2. to combine or join together, or to cause things to do this

avoid

?

3. to make something less harmful, serious

signal

?

4. to put a lubricant on something such as the parts of a machine, to help them move smoothly

merge

?

5. to prevent something from happening or to not allow yourself to do something

pass

?

6. to go past something or someone

 

Click here, to see the key!

lubricate 4 / mitigate 3 / avoid 5 / signal 1 / merge 2 / pass 6

 

 

Exercise 2

Complete the sentences with the words from the previous exercise.

avoid

mitigate

lubricate

merge

pass

signal

 

 

  1. I try to supermarkets on Saturdays – they’re always so busy.
  2. I him on the stairs this morning.
  3. It is unclear how to effects of tourism on the island.
  4. A car engine needs to be well with oil.
  5. The union has that the workers will strike.
  6. They decided to the two companies into one.
Click here, to see the key!

  1. I try to avoid supermarkets on Saturdays – they’re always so busy.
  2. I passed him on the stairs this morning.
  3. It is unclear how to mitigate the effects of tourism on the island.
  4. A car engine needs to be well lubricated with oil.
  5. The union has signalled that the workers will strike.
  6. They decided to merge the two companies into one.

 

SPEAKING

Exercise 1

Try to give your own definition of small talk.

Exercise 2: practice new vocabulary

Answer the questions using the suggested words in brackets.

1. What is the primary function of small talk in interpersonal communication?

(it functions)

2. In a what way small talk ?lubricates? social interactions?

(lubricates)

3. What can small talk be used for?

(mitigate)

4. What does small talk help to avoid?

(avoid)

 

 image8

PART TWO

TALKING ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY AND GETTING INFORMATION ABOUT PLACES YOU VISIT.

Exercise 1

Look at the questions below and order them to a proper category. Put ?+? in a proper column.

QUESTIONS about your country about places you visit
How long does it take to get to the airport?
Which areas should I avoid / can be dangerous?
What attractions are there in your capital city?
Can you tell me a bit about history of your country?
How do I get to the main tourist attraction?
What are your famous customs / traditions?
What?s the most convenient way to get to ??
What famous people come from your country?
What is the best place to stay at?
Are there any famous festivals in your country?
What is your famous national dish?
What are people from your country like?
Where is the tourist information?
What souvenirs should one bring from your country?
What is your country famous for?
Which town / city would you recommend to see in your country?

 

Click here, to see the key!

QUESTIONS about your country about places you visit
How long does it take to get to the airport?
Which areas should I avoid / can be dangerous?
What attractions are there in your capital city?
Can you tell me a bit about history of your country?
How do I get to the main tourist attraction?
What are your famous customs / traditions?
What?s the most convenient way to get to ??
What famous people come from your country?
What is the best place to stay at?
Are there any famous festivals in your country?
What is your famous national dish?
What are people from your country like?
Where is the tourist information?
What souvenirs should one bring from your country?
What is your country famous for?
Which town / city would you recommend to see in your country?

Exercise 2: speaking

Answer all the questions from the chart.

TALKING ABOUT YOUR PREFERENCES

Exercise 1:

What expressions do you know to talk about your likes and dislikes?

Order the phrases to the proper column.

LIKE DISLIKE
I like
I don?t like ?
I really like ? / I like ?. very much.
I dislike ?
I love ?
I hate ?
I?m crazy about ?
I detest ?

 

Click here, to see the key!

LIKE DISLIKE
I like
I don?t like ?
I really like ? / I like ?. very much.
I dislike ?
I love ?
I hate ?
I?m crazy about ?
I detest ?

SPEAKING EXERCISES ? TALKING ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD

Exercise 1:

Answer the general questions about food.

QUESTION ANSWER
What are your eating habits?
Is food important for you?
Do you try to eat health-consciously?
Are you fussy about some types of food?
Do you like cooking?
Do you often eat out?
Do you nibble between meals?

Exercise 2: THINK AND SAY

Imagine you are in an informal meeting with some of your business partners. You are about to order some food and the conversation about eating habits, favourite food and cooking starts.

  • What questions would you ask your business partners?
  • What questions can they ask?

THINK

HOW WOULD YOU COMPLETE THE QUESTIONS BELOW?

1. What?s your favourite of food / drink?

 

2. What?s your favourite ?

 

3. What?s your favourite ?

 

4. What?s your favourite ?

 

5. Do you prefer home-made or food?

 

6. Are you ?

 

7. Do you like mild food?

 

8. What?s the for your national / favourite dish?

Click here, to see the key!

1. What?s your favourite type of food?
2. What?s your favourite cuisine?
3. What?s your favourite dish?
4. What?s your favourite dessert?
5. Do you prefer home-made or ready-made food?
6. Are you a vegetarian?
7. Do you like spicy or mild food?
8. What?s the recipe for your national / favourite dish?

Answer the questions using both the words and phrases from the box and your own ones.

all types of

I don?t mind any ?

Chinese

Japanese

Mexican

not too hot

not too spicy

only mild

only home-made

exclude

ready-made things

fusion cuisine

beef

fish

Asian food

favourite recipe

old recipes

no dairy products

greasy food poultry

find cooking entertaining

never eat out

Italian meat

don?t have a sweet tooth

not very picky