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Ten basic tips for small talk

am 11.11.2014 von Doris Graf


Over the years I have met many German learners who simply cringe at the thought of meeting new people in a social setting, be that for business reasons in their company or private.


The key, it seems to me, is to stay relaxed and to consider what subjects might be of interest to the other person. Few of those Germans shying away from small talk are aware of the fact that their foreign partners in conversation would just like to have a light exchange of views, some fun and a generally enjoyable time.


I have put some proven tips together for you to try out. Feel free to let me know how it went!


  • Take the initiative and be the first to say hello or introduce yourself.
  • The others may be just as nervous or reserved as you.
  • Ask a person’ s name, if you’ve forgotten it and bring their name into
  • the conversation.
  • Let the others talk and demonstrate you are listening by smiling,
  • making eye contact and nodding from time to time.
  • Include everyone in the group in the conversation whenever possible.
  • Practise different ways of starting a conversation.
  • Get other people’s opinions.
  • Look for the positive in those you meet.
  • Be curious and show interest in finding out about others.
  • Tell others about interesting events in your life.
  • Show enthusiasm about your subjects and other people’s interests.
  • Be able to tell others in a few short sentences what you do in your Job.




Keeping the conversation going is important. Here is how you can do that:


A - Listen carefully to the other person and…. show interest!

B - Shoot the "ball" back (What about YOU?)

C - Find out what someone is really interested in.

D - Choose positive things to talk about

E - Avoid answering with just "Yes" and "No"

F - Change the topic of conversation after a while


I’ll be glad to hear from anyone who has put these tips into practice.


Questions and suggestions are welcome anytime. Are you interested in other specific topics that raise questions for you? Feel free to let me know.



Doris Graf, Dolmetscherin, Übersetzerin und Trainerin für Business Englisch und Spanisch

Nach zehn Jahren interkultureller Arbeitserfahrung im europäischen Ausland (London, Paris, Barcelona) ist Doris Graf seit über 20 Jahren engagiert mit ihren „Leidenschaftssprachen" English und Spanisch unterwegs.

Sie dolmetscht national und international u.a. bei Konferenzen, Unternehmensführungen, Verhandlungen und unterstützt Führungskräfte als Coach für die englische Sprache. Als beeidigte Übersetzerin für Englisch & Spanisch überträgt sie vorrangig Texte aus den Bereichen Wirtschaft, Recht und Technik.

Weitere Informationen finden Sie auf www.graf-uebersetzungen.com

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