Small talk

Small talk

Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club -the community of speakers of that language.”

Frank Smith


group of peopleSmall talk is something that you need to learn how to do. It is not difficult but it does have some areas where you can get into trouble. Learn to do it right and people will want to talk with you.

Hello and welcome to this audio lesson on small talk.

What is small talk? Small talk is what people do when they meet people for the first time in the day or before a meeting. Small talk is basically a conversation between people that is not too serious and is used to fill time before starting to talk about the main topic.

What are some safe small talk topics?

Sometimes the subject will depend on how well you know the person. If you are coworkers or classmates you can sometimes talk about more personal things. However this may not be possible when meeting someone from a foreign country or someone you do not know very well or a new coworker or classmate

In the west, you will find that many people will talk about the weather. This is considered a safe subject because it is something that we cannot change so it is easy to give your opinion about the weather without upsetting the other person.

A second safe topic could be about a recent sporting event. You may have to be a bit careful as some people are very passionate about their team and if they lost they may not want to engage in any talk about the game

A television program may also pass as being acceptable as a small talk subject as long as the program was not too controversial. A long running series that is popular would be acceptable, while a show about a controversial figure may not be as good a subject.

What are some not so safe small talk subjects?

Anything to do with religion should be considered as off limits. People can be very passionate about their religious beliefs and will defend their beliefs with great vigor which can lead to arguments and possibly a loss of friendship.

While talking about someone’s family is okay once you get to know them, it is not always a good small talk subject. The person may have just had a family loss that you don’t know about and it could be painful for them to talk about it.

Politics is another not so safe area. Like religion, people can become very passionate about their political beliefs. Why cause bad feelings when you can talk about something a little safer.

Small talk is part of everyday conversation in society. Learning how to do it properly can help you when learning to speak English. If done properly, it can open up the way for you to make new friends.


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