Small talk is a big deal. Gabrielle Jones, one of our presenters in June, has a 2-part lesson plan on the subject and an upcoming webinar via BeSIG on May 5th.
In our business English classrooms we’re used to teaching transactional language –the kind of language that our course participants need to use to get things done. This might be emailing or telephoning, or it could be conducting interviews and giving appraisals. What we often overlook, however, is the equally important relational language which learners need, the language which helps them ‘make friends and influence people’, if you like.
Small talk is a rapport building strategy which helps to develop trust, a willingness to cooperate and the sharing of information. Surely an essential skill then? I certainly think so. Small talk plays a vital role in a wide number of communication tasks. In negotiations, the development of rapport fosters the cooperative behaviour which is needed to achieve an efficient outcome. This is even more effective if the negotiation partners communicate face to face, but emails and telephone calls which begin with…
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