Why don't Germans like small talk
In business, but also private situations, you should understand the small talk as a warm-up phase. Every athlete, opera singer or actor warms up, adopt this fact for your appearance on the business floor. Falling straight into the house at the doorstep does not go down well with many business partners, especially in other cultures. In any case, you should build up the relationship level with a small talk at the beginning. But how do you get into conversation with strangers?
The first steps
As a host or IT professional in the company who invites you to a customer event, it is your job to entertain your customers or to "catch them when they are alone and lost in the room. The first step is a greeting. This is usually followed by a phrase like: "We haven't been introduced yet ..." or "As I can see, you stand here a little alone ..."
The third step is the introduction. A personable self-introduction is with your first and last name and an addition what you are doing in the company for a position or activity.
And the final step is referring to the situation. This could look like this: "How did you hear about our event", "What contact did you use to get here today?" ...
With this procedure you have already provided the addressee with several templates for a conversation, and the person may be able to remember your name better because you have already revealed a little more about yourself.
- The secret of small talk
We'll tell you the most important rules for successful small talk so that you can communicate effortlessly.
- Take courage!
Small talk usually only takes place among strangers. But even if you are afraid of it: a little chat is much easier than you think!
- The first impression
Present yourself in a personable way, the first impression counts. But also see small talk as a warm-up phase. Especially with business partners from other cultures, it does not go down well if you fall straight into the house.
- Take yourself back
This gives your counterpart space to talk and you often receive valuable initial information.
- Find common ground
The best way to do this is to ask open-ended questions that express interest in the other person.
- Potential topics
If you find it difficult to find suitable questions, simply relate to the environment or the occasion of the encounter. "How did you hear about this event?" or "What contact are you here through today?" can be the prelude to a nice small talk.
- Warning, taboo zone!
It becomes dangerous with topics of conversation that have a polarizing effect, such as politics or religion. If the other person has a different opinion than you, you will quickly fall into the trap. And beware of negative issues like delayed flights! Whining together rarely connects.
- Do not hold monologues!
The effect on your audience is likely to be foreseeable.
- Listen actively and attentively.
An occasional nod or "yes, yes" shows little interest or appreciation. Instead, really listen and recall information that the other person mentioned: "You said earlier that you ..."
- Maintain eye contact.
Especially at a larger event, the temptation is great to let your eyes wander in order to miss as little as possible. That is rude to your current interlocutor! So keep eye contact.
- Many interlocutors
The word 'SMALL Talk' describes it perfectly: larger events are about short conversations and getting to know each other. Take advantage of the opportunities by talking to many different people.
- End the conversation on a positive note.
As already said, negative topics rarely connect and often leave a bland aftertaste. Instead, put a positive end to it. "I enjoyed our conversation a lot, I hope we can continue it later." can be a nice ending if you mean it.
- Small talk is there for networking.
Observing is fun, but also take the opportunity to establish relationships by actively looking for new people to talk to. So keep an eye out for groups that are open to each other or people who will allow you longer eye contact.
- Preparation is useful
Conversations are often easier to come about if you have found out a little about your host / customers in advance.
The start of the conversation
Do they exist now after all - the icebreakers? There is no such thing as the first clever sentence. In principle, however, you can prepare for an interview. Use the open-ended questioning technique and formulate these W-questions in your head.
What could I be interested in about the interlocutor?
What do I already know about the conversation partner?
Which topics could be suitable?
How does he find ...?
It's best to find similarities. The quickest common ground you can find is the place, environment and occasion that brought you together. Meet your client in the theater, talk about the beautiful atmosphere of the theater or how well attended the performance is.
Ask questions about the place where you will meet your business partner. Does he know his way around? Can he make recommendations for restaurants or things to do? If not, where does it come from? And you're in the conversation.
Another way to open a conversation is to give a serious compliment to my potential interlocutor. That has the nice side effect that you said something nice right away.
This means not only nodding and saying "yes" or "hmm" every now and then, but also the ability to remember what is said casually. A question could be answered with more than one piece of information. Make a note of this additional information and include it again later. According to the motto: "You mentioned earlier that you ..."
The topics of conversation
The range of what one can talk about is long. And with some topics of conversation you have to find out by asking questions whether they are suitable for my counterpart or not. Much more important, however, are the taboo subjects.
Avoid all topics that are polarizing. You can fall into the trap too quickly that the person you are speaking to has a different opinion on a topic than you do. Typically this includes the following topics: Politics and religion. Some sports can also be disastrous, just think of fans of various football clubs.
Anything negative should be avoided in small talk - even if there might be commonalities. Examples are the delay of the train or the cancellation of flights. A suffering shared is not always a suffering halved. And hold back on making claims. Too quickly you can catapult yourself into the sidelines with a thoughtless statement. To claim: "You can't even travel to Mallorca, there are nicer places there" could strike sensitive ears in your discussion group.
Don't think the weather is a taboo subject. The weather is often the perfect transition to your weekend trips, your sport or your vacation plans.
- Seven tips for good speaking
Ingo Vogel reveals how you can achieve the desired effect in discussions with employees, partners, customers and suppliers.
- 1. Pronunciation: Clarity ensures clarity
Many people tend to mumble and swallow words and endings. Unclear pronunciation often leads to misunderstandings. It also makes listening difficult. Therefore, do not speak too quickly.
- 2. Emphasis: Emphasize key messages
By emphasizing individual words, sentences or parts of sentences, you determine which messages will reach your counterpart. In this way you also give your statements the desired meaning. Let's take the sentence, "I heard he stole the money today" as an example. Without special emphasis, this sentence sounds factual, neutral, distant - similar to a news anchor.
- 3. Volume: the right amount at the right time
Varying and adjusting the volume is also important so that you get through to your counterpart. Because "quiet speakers" don't like to talk to "loudspeakers" and vice versa. In addition, if you speak too softly from the audience's point of view, you quickly appear insecure; and whoever speaks too loudly becomes arrogant and dominant. So pay attention to how loudly the other person is speaking and adjust your volume.
- 4. Breaks: a stylistic device that everyone benefits from
Those who take pauses in speaking can take a deep breath, think ahead and gain time. Anyone who is silent for a moment now and then also appears more confident. Because breaks also give the conversation partner the chance to answer questions. Short "stopovers" also make it easier for your interlocutor to digest your information.
- 5. Sentence length: The strength lies in brevity
Speaking without periods and commas, i.e. without pauses, tires our interlocutors. The same applies to long nested sentences. In time, interlocutors also react to them as bored and annoyed. Tapeworm formulations also lead to the fact that you get tangled up quickly and lose the common thread.
- 6. Speaking speed: the commandment is appropriate
Those who speak too quickly usually reduce the impact of their speech. Because speaking quickly suffers from the clarity of the pronunciation. In addition, there is not enough time to emphasize properly. And the pauses in speech, which are necessary to create tension and thus make statements work, also fall by the wayside.
- 7. Tonality: The right tone supports the message
Managers or parents often complain: I tell my employees or children something, but they just don't do it. A common cause for this: you give the other person an order, but towards the end of the sentence your voice rises. This makes your request sound more like a question - implausible or not meant seriously.
End the conversation
The good news is that small talk can be short. As a host, you are also not obliged to stick to a guest for the entire evening just because they do not trust themselves on your part. As a host, you even have the duty to take care of other guests and you can also use this as an "excuse" to say goodbye. But how do you do this gallantly?
Say it like it is:
"I am currently seeing another guest / customer / employee whom I would like to say hello. You excuse me."
"I had a lot of fun with our conversation. I would love to chat a little more, but unfortunately duty calls ... You excuse me."
Other options such as going to the buffet or bar are also possible. On the way there or at your destination, you will meet people or even lose sight of each other.
On the other hand, the excuse of having to wash your hands is not exactly gallant and does not always lead to the goal.
The advanced version is the handover with the introduction of a third person. If you have come across a topic that you know that another guest or employee has the same interests, you can go to this specifically and introduce the people to each other and state the topic as the reason for the introduction.
Build your exit by closing the last topic on a positive note. "We can look forward to exciting times ..."
Say how you found the conversation: "I could talk to you for hours. That was really interesting ..."
Thank you for the conversation and the time your interviewer took.
If necessary, justify your departure.
If you really want to, you can hold out the prospect of a new meeting and exchange your business cards.
The last thing to do is say goodbye, possibly even with a handshake.
How do I find my victim of small talk?
If you are invited to an event and your host has already said goodbye to you, start looking for a suitable person to talk to. Not so easy?
The best victim for small talk is someone who is alone. At these events the motto is not "observation is fun", but rather establishing relationships is the order of the day. As you enter the room, observe who is granting you longer eye contact. These are potential interlocutors for you later.
Find groups that are open to one another. Are there any gaps in which you can present yourself? A group with their backs to us as one usually does not want to be disturbed. If you cannot find a group to join, the best place for you is between the entrance and the bar. This is the most frequented route. Perhaps then one or the other guest will stick with you.
Maintain your relationships with small talk too. Dare to take up this little conversation and try to practice these situations as often as possible.
13 golden rules for small talk
Small talk usually only occurs between strangers.
Present yourself in a personable way - think about their first impression
Give your counterpart space to talk and take yourself back.
Ask open questions and find common ground
Place, environment and occasion are topics that you can address as something you have in common.
Avoid taboo topics: polarizing topics, negatives, money, illness, claims, ...
Don't give monologues.
Listen actively and attentively.
Maintain eye contact.
Find as many people to talk to as possible.
End the conversation on a positive note.
Use small talk to network.
Prepare for your small talk partner in business.
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