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Small Talk: Business

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Business ESL, Making Small Talk, Breaking the Ice

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Small Talk: Business

  2. 2. Why is small talk important, especially in business?
  3. 3. WHY is small talk so important (especially in business?)
  4. 4. According to Forbes magazine, there are SIX reasons why Small Talk is essential for Business. 1. You never know where it will lead: Small talk can lead to a host of outcomes, from just getting to know someone better to a bigger business connection. 2. It makes you smarter: Small talk can improve our ability to solve problems. Often, you must learn to read another person’s emotions & see things from their perspective (empathize). 3. It feels good: Humans are social animals, and a little small talk can help brighten our day. 4. It opens your eyes: Small talk is similar to exercising your brain. You have to focus, and it takes more effort than talking to someone you feel close with. 5. You’ll be liked: Spending your time to talk to someone is a symbol of respect. 6. You have no choice: From getting a job to meeting clients, small talk is simply an essential skill to master. Employers want people who can “think on their feet”
  5. 5. Acceptable Topics Taboo Topics
  6. 6. Acceptable Topics • Present / Past activities • Work • Weather • General family wellness • Upcoming events (holidays, vacation plans, work events…) • Travel • Hobbies (books, TV shows, Sports) • News Headlines Acceptable, if kept positive: • appearance / fashion • past performance • health • Food / restaurants • places to go • Money Taboo Topics • Religion / Religious beliefs • Sex • Appearance (if negative) • Politics / War • Money (sometimes) • Failure / poor performance • Relationship problems • Health problems • Gossip Be careful about: • pregnancy / child-rearing • advice giving • opinion topics * of course, it depends on your relationship with the person…
  8. 8. 1. LIMIT THE WORD “I” TO A MINIMUM Tell your story in the short version and ask the other person to tell his or her story. Show interest in what he/she is saying. asking questions about the subject.
  9. 9. 2. MAKE OTHERS FEEL IMPORTANT BY EYE CONTACT AND FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS. It’s important to show that you’re listening (respecting) the other person. You can do this by eye contact, and asking follow-up questions. *not looking at a cell phone.
  10. 10. 3. AVOID WHISPERING Whispering is risky because it sends the wrong message. It could be viewed as gossiping or being secretive, and it could negatively affect your image at work.
  11. 11. 4. SPEAK IN A LANGUAGE THAT IS INCLUSIVE If you are talking to someone in a language that is not English and other people come along to join you and they do not speak your Vietnamese, it’s polite to switch to English and include them in the conversation. Make them feel welcomed and not like they are interrupting.
  12. 12. 5. TRY TO REMAIN NEUTRAL ON CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS, OR GIVE YOUR VIEW IN A POLITE WAY. If someone else brings up a controversial topic, or wants your opinion about something, try to be diplomatic in your response (meaning, try to see both sides). OR, if you do give your honest opinions, be polite while doing so, and avoid “proving your point” too much.
  14. 14. Not knowing how to ACCEPT a compliment. Some people feel uncomfortable if someone gives them a compliment. They may disagree, or just not say anything. However, the best thing to do if someone compliments you is simply to say, “Thank you!”
  15. 15. Saying, “You look tired.” / “Are you pregnant?” “You look fatter/thinner.” Remember to be careful if you comment on someone’s appearance! Keep it positive! IF someone does look different, it’s better to ask them “How’s your day going?” “How are you feeling today?”
  16. 16. Responding negatively or complaining. If someone asks you how your day is, try to stay positive. Even if you’re having a hard day, you can respond with phrases like: “I’ve been busy today, but very productive. How about you?” “The traffic was terrible today, but I’m happy I made it here on time! How long was your commute?” “I’m doing okay, how about you?”
  17. 17. Failing to ask questions. Small talk is a ‘dance’ that requires two people to be fully engaged. If you’re the only one talking, you’re not really connecting with the other person. If you find yourself in a ‘one-sided conversation’, get the other person involved by asking them questions about themselves.
  19. 19. What would you say to… …a colleague while waiting for a business meeting to begin?
  20. 20. What would you say to… …a colleague you’re picking up at the airport (first time meeting)
  21. 21. What would you say to… …your boss while you both wait for the elevator?
  22. 22. What would you say to… …two doctors that you have a meeting with
  23. 23. What would you say to… …a foreign KOL speaker that has been to Vietnam many times before.
  24. 24. What would you say to… …your boss, if you ran into him/her eating dinner at the same restaurant as you?
  25. 25. What would you say to… …the person sitting next to you on a long flight?
  26. 26. What would you say to… …Someone you meet at a networking event?