Small Talk is a pleasant conversation about common interests, a prelude to a business conversation. It is meant to put people especially introverts at ease before they get down to business. It helps to create a favorable environment for talking business. It may also help you to develop a better understanding of the person that you are doing business with.

Every Conversation is an Opportunity For Success.
         – Debra Fine

1. Small talk requires important social skills which are highly valued in the workplace. It helps to break the ice before important business meetings and events.

2. Many people are comfortable talking about business but do not know how to begin a conversation at business meeting appropriately. This is mostly because they don’t know what to talk about. It may also be because they are not confident about their language. Hence both confidence about what to say and how to say it are essential for an effective small talk.

3. It is helpful to keep these tips in mind about talk:

Be aware of this type of person/people you’ll be meeting. Some prior preparation can be extremely helpful. If the visitor happens to be from a region, state or country other than yours then look up information about the place she/he comes from. This can easily be done over the Internet. Knowledge of a few words belonging to the language of the visitor can be of additional help. Your visitor will appreciate your special interest and your conversation will then be more meaningful.

4. During your conversation, it is advisable to stay away from personal beliefs and controversial topics. These include your religious beliefs, value system, political conviction, affiliations, and connections.

5. Also, do not invade the personal space of the visitor by asking about personal matters like whether she/he is married or not, how many children she/he has, what they are doing, her/his salary, age etc. Subjects like weather, sports, entertainment are safe subjects.

6.In the course of your initial conversation, you may be able to identify some areas of common interest. Once you have a subject that interests both of you, keep it! You can do this is a number of ways: talking about travel, talking about the school or friend you have in common, talking about the differences between your culture and the new culture, without passing judgments on which one is better.

7. And most importantly, be a good listener. Don’t get so carried away with your preparation for the meeting and your ability to communicate that you don’t listen. Listening carefully will help you understand and encourage those speaking to you.

8.In some situation, you might be nervous or uncomfortable and not know how to begin. In such cases, letting others state their opinion will improve the quality of the discussion – and give you time to think of an answer!

Safe and Unsafe Topics For Small talk

The ability to make `small talk’ is highly valued. Though it may appear to be simple, but in reality, many people find it extremely difficult to handle because, unlike business conversation, where you are in control of the content, in small talk you can’t be sure about what may be considered as appropriate. Here are some widely accepted topics:

  • Sports – Current matches or games, favorite teams, etc.  Be careful about the choice of the sport through. You can’t talk about cricket to an American just as you cannot discuss baseball within  India.
  • Any major activities that are going on at the moment.
  • Current Affairs
  • Recent Incidents
  • Hobbies
  • Weather – This may sound boring, but it can help to break the ice!
  • Family- General questions, not questions about private matters- this is a common topic in India.
  • Media- films, books, magazines, websites etc.
  • Holidays-Where, when, etc.
  • HomeTown- Where do you come from/grew up; favorably how is it different/similar to this town.
  • Job- once again, General questions not too specific.
  • Latest Fashion and trends.
  • Celebrities.
  • Festivals- common in India.

Are Here Are Some Taboo Topics That You’d Like To Avoid

  • Salary- how much do you make ??
  • Political -including political ideologies /philosophies.
  • Marital status.
  • Age.
  • Intimate relationships.
  • Religion.
  • Death.
  • Financial – related to salary or the cost of anything you possess including your house.
  • Sales- Don’t try to sell something to someone you have just met.

In a country like India building a relationship is important even in business. Indians ten favorably with those they know and trust- even at the expense of lucrative deals. It is vital that a good working relationship is founded with any prospective partner. Small talk and social conversations can go a long way in helping to build a favorable relationship.  In addition to this, demonstrating strong business acumen, and at a personal level, I.e relating to your partner and exhibiting the positive traits of trustworthiness and honor would contribute greatly to a conductive relationship.

Most meetings starts with a great deal of getting to know you talk. In fact, it is quite possible that no business will be discussed at the first meeting. This can be quite problematic for people from other cultures, particularly the West.

Indians are in awe of famous people, particularly from the world of cricket and cinema. Hence celebrities, who are frequently used for advertising goods and services, can make a good topic for social conversations. Also, there are close links between sports, films, and business. Many business luminaries befriend stars or sponsor events. The recent bidding of cricket teams by business tycoons and the film starts amounting to crores of rupees is indicative of the close links between sports, films, and business in India.