November 16, 2011

A big fuss about small talk

I think small talk has been around as long as humans have. The only difference between centuries ago and now is that we’ve given it a name. But I can well imagine the kings of old having to entertain royalty from other countries, nervously trying to fill those uncomfortable silences with comments like, “So, what do you think about the weather?”… But today, I think it’s taken on an entirely different level of importance. I recently read that the success of a pitch depends largely on the first 5 to 10 minutes of the meeting. Guess what happens during these precious few minutes? Small talk! The article went on to say, that the moment the potential new client feels relaxed and comfortable in a conversation that flows seamlessly from the beginning, the more likely they are to sign on the dotted line at the end. However, this was an English article written by an American. And since I’ve been living and working in Germany, I’ve realized that over here, the dynamic of small talk is often somewhat different. So here are a couple of examples I’ve come across. I hope they shed some light on a few unexplained awkward moments.

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