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Posted on March 5, 2019

9 chit chat tips to start a smooth business conversation

Pharma relations will most of the time stand for years but, every relation starts with convincing the other party that you're the best partner. No matter how good you are at the negotiating table, getting there takes time, effort and a whole different set of skills. Once you start setting up the business details by negotiating the deadlines, the budget, and other formalities, the chances are you will get out of that meeting with something at your hands. But, no one ever walked into the meeting and started doing business just by sending a formal sounding wall of text by email a couple of days earlier. After all, no one prefers a salesperson with a personality of Siri or Alexa over fun and witty personality with excellent table manners and broad education.

I’ll stop beating around the bush, small talk is the skill we are going to talk about today.

 

9 tips to go with the flow of the world with many cultures

 

Prepare!

Whenever possible, you should think about who you are going to meet. Think about their hobbies, interests, or topics that you could talk about. Keep the cultural differences in mind at all times.


Show your interest

"How was your trip?" or "In which hotel are you staying?" These kinds of questions might be a bit easy but your conversation partner will definitely appreciate it. People also like to get compliments. If you like for example their office or the welcoming way they have treated you, don't be shy to let them know.

 

Body language

Body language might be more important than what you are actually saying. Warm, friendly smile, open stance and casual eye contact will bring you closer to others in the group. By keeping the core of your body free from your arms it'll give you a relaxed and open attitude.
 

Watch and learn!

There are many online resources about cultural norms of different societies. If you don’t have enough time to study them, then observe what others are doing and what are they talking about. If the tone of the small talk over lunch is somewhat formal, stick to it! Don’t break the flow with a hilarious joke or an anecdote from a Netflix movie.
 

Silence might not be a bad sign

For most people, awkward silence is perceived as the absence of connection. However, sometimes it gives time to reflect and make some constructive remarks. Too much of it is not a good sign, but talking for the sake of talking is even worse!
 

Limit the conflict

In some cultures, a harsh discussion about religion or politics is what keeps the good vibes at high frequency. Believe it or not, most of the Germanic cultures at least historically speaking, doesn’t perceive vigorous debate as a bad manner. Times have changed, and to stay on the safe side try to avoid confrontations or harsh remarks. At least in the beginning, before you get to know the people.
 

Discuss local news

Events that are already in the public eye are a great conversation starter. Local movie festival, sports event, or a charity event can trigger a friendly conversation. Stay positive. Local cultural events are always a better topic for discussion than local potholes. Just ask them and they would love to talk about it.
 

People love good humor, but don’t forgive bad one

Being fun in a non-native language is hard. Being fun in the group of people you know nothing about is even harder. Those two combined is the hardest thing in the world. Play safe, stay polite and cautious about making jokes.
 

Always close a small talk

It takes a few seconds to say “It’s been great talking about <insert a relevant remark about topics you discussed>.”

 

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