small talk

May 27, 2011

Dear Grover

As a teacher of English, one of my mundane assignments is to teach negotiation skills, one of which is the ability for students in international trade relations to engage in small talk.

May I ask dull men and decent women which topics they consider as safe, in the US, the UK, Ireland, possibly Spain or Germany, Asia – actually in whichever part of the world dull men and decent women may live.

Many thanks

François Gojat
Wimereux, France


Dear François

The weather is always a safe bet for small talk. At least to get started.

Questions like “Where are you from?” or “What do you do?” can be asked, although these are too direct for some dull men.

Dull men, the shy ones, sometimes look at their shoes instead of at you. Saying “Nice shoes” to them might get a conversation underway.

As for topics country-by-country, perhaps for the US bring up the terrible tornadoes . UK: Royal Wedding or Obama visit. Ireland: Obama visit or beer: Spain, the demonstrators. Germany: sausages. Asia: not sure, I’ll think about this. Some of these topics are of course current ones; a few weeks from now the topics might be different.

Sincerely (dull men are always sincere, ,mostly),