Suitable small talk

    Spotlight Plus 14/2020
    Vier Personen mit Kaffeebechern unterhalten sich in einem Meetingraum
    © alvarez/

    Mastering small talk is an important business skill. You can practise it by doing the following exercises.

    Remember that it’s good to be cautious when making small talk. In business, we often make small talk with people we don’t know well. In order not to offend, it’s best to stick to topics you might have in common, such as:

    • interests
    • places
    • holidays
    • people
    • likes and dislikes

    2. Happy endings

    2. Happy endings



    I know that small talk is an important part of building a good business relationship. Do you have some tips about which subjects I should bring up and which subjects are better to avoid?

    Best wishes,
    Karl H.


    I agree that small talk helps build a positive platform on which you can then do business more easily.

    Traditionally, it is said that you should avoid talking about sex, politics and religion. Why? Because you might accidentally offend the other person. In some cultures, talking about money would come into that category, too.

    You can, of course, talk about these subjects with people you know well — but they are probably best avoided on a first meeting.

    My advice is that you try to find things that you have in common with the other person. The following topics could be suitable:

    • interests: cinema, theatre, music, hobbies, sport, etc.
    • places: where you have lived or worked, where you were born / brought up, etc.
    • holidays: places or famous attractions you have visited, holiday activities you enjoy, etc.
    • people: friends and acquaintances you both know or work with

    dislikes: agreeing on a common dislike is a powerful bond

    Try these out next time you have the chance and see if they work for you.

    Kind regards,

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