Archipelago Correspondence – Third Edition 2013
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by Marjolein Hinfelaar, adapted by Prue Gargano
The English are supposed to be fond of small talk: chatting about things that are relatively unimportant such as the weather or football. Small talk is light-hearted: you complain in a light-hearted way about how it has not stopped raining for days or how hot it is for the time of the year. Yet, do not underestimate small talk. It plays an important part in breaking the ice when you meet people for the first time, perhaps for important business negotiations. Imagine that you have to bridge a gap of time while waiting for your other negotiating partners to arrive. This is where small talk comes into its own.
The ability to engage in small talk is just as important in maintaining existing business contacts. Picking up the thread is easy if you approach your business partner with some light-hearted chatter about some topic you share a mutual interest in. You may have discovered that you are both wine connoisseurs, and can greet your business partner with a question about a new wine that you were both going to try the last time you met. However, do not monopolise the conversation. Give your partner the opportunity to respond: small talk is always a two-way process.