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Smalltalk auf Englisch - Nie wieder sprachlos

Schlagwörter: Smalltalk auf Englisch, Smalltalk Englisch, Smalltalk auf Englisch - Nie wieder sprachlos

Many who are at ease making small talk in German can feel intimidated when it’s time to make small talk in English. Through a lack of basic linguistic skills, even the most talkative, friendly person can find himself standing on the side of the room like a wallflower. Here are a few useful tips that will help you feel more comfortable diving in.

Introduce yourself with pizzazz

One trick is to find a way to introduce yourself in a way that will get the native speakers talking. This puts you in answer mode, which is much easier than trying to lead the conversation.
To understand how this works, visualise yourself joining a group. Everyone looks at you, waiting for you to introduce yourself. You say: Hi, I’m Ute.

Everyone looks at you. Possible responses:

Smiles, but no inclusion in the conversation and no recognition

Inclusion in the conversation that feels a bit condescending: Well, Ute, who do you work for? Why are you here?

Result: You’re still a wallflower, but no longer standing by the wall.
You can avoid this situation by being ready with an introduction that’s worth talking about:

Hi, I’m Ute from Accounting. I’m the one who cooks the books.
Hi, I’m Ute. I’m the new book-cooker in Accounting.
Hi, I’m Ute. I’m the new bean counter in Marta Eng’s group.
Hi, I’m Ute. I’m the head book-cooker in Accounting at Meridoc Marketing.
Hi, I’m Ute. I seem to be the only one here who doesn’t know anyone.

This type of introduction accomplishes a few things:

It shows you are friendly, and not too formal or stiff

It shows you don’t take yourself too seriously and that you are probably fun to speak with

It makes it less likely that the others will forget you

But most important, such introductions give the others material that can be pursued. As long as they’re not wallflowers themselves, at least one will take control of the conversation:

Oh, so you’re the one.
How do you like working down in Marta’s group?
All I can say is that I’m glad they finally hired someone who’ll be able to whip our financials into shape.

If you’re looking for something, say what it is
A slightly different version of the same technique is to state your purpose for being there after you’ve introduced yourself.

Hi, I’m Ute with Meridoc Marketing.
I’m here to learn a little about …
I’m hoping to meet people who know something about …

You might think it’s strange to directly state what you’re looking for, but it works. It’s just human nature. Most people enjoy helping a stranger. Especially older professionals like to help younger ones.

Assume the role of group facilitator
This is a way to be part of a group without really being part of it, and works especially well if the conversations are changing quickly, the language is too fast and the vocabulary a bit too challenging.
As facilitator, your job is to make sure everyone is included in the conversation. You only need to be good at remembering names and job responsibilities, and skilled in using a small number of phrases:

Oh, that’s an interesting point. Julie, you’re the engineer here. What do you think of that?
Robert, you’re suddenly quiet.
Do you have an opinion on this?
Perhaps you don’t agree?

When someone else joins the group, you’re the one who rolls out the red carpet:

Hi Julie, it’s nice to meet you. This is Robert, Sarah, Lavinia and Sam. I’m Ute. We’re currently talking about…

Remember what small talk is about
Small talk is a way for people to get to know each other better, to see who offers what, and potentially to make contact with people who may be able to help one another.
The only way to do that is to meet strangers, since you already know what the people you know can offer. This means when you enter a room full of strangers, you should remember that most of them don’t know each other either. Many will be a bit nervous because of the social situation, and not because of the language. Of course we know the only thing that might be holding you back is the language, right?

Always seek eye contact. Even as you walk through the room, seek eye contact and smile. You might have the opportunity to speak with these people later, and they’ll already be more “warm”.

If you just can’t seem to find the right words, learn how to make polite noises and use them:

How interesting!
Of course.
Exactly right.

If you accidentally join a private conversation, say this: “Oh, I’m sorry, you’re having a private conversation. Excuse the intrusion. I’ll come back later.”

Take a drink if you are offered one. If not, find one. It not only gives you something to do with one hand, but makes you look like you’re participating. It also prevents you from crossing your arms, which makes you look unapproachable.

More than anything, don’t be a wallflower. Don’t stand alone with your back to the wall, looking out into the room. Walk right into the centre of the room, join a group, introduce yourself and, if nothing else, make polite noises.

If you’re lucky, an experienced small talker will recognise your language challenge, draw you out and make you feel comfortable. Create an opportunity for this to happen.

Schlagwörter: Smalltalk auf Englisch, Smalltalk Englisch, Smalltalk auf Englisch - Nie wieder sprachlos

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