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How to Make Small Talk with Anyone from Anywhere

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Meet-and-greet conversations can be uncomfortable. And they can feel especially daunting when you’re paired with strangers from different cultures, like when networking in a global business context. In this setting, light and introductory-style conversations (what some of us know as “small talk”) can be very helpful, and even necessary. Small talk is a quasi-universal tool for initiating conversations with strangers from different cultures, for building a quick rapport, and for planting the seeds of deeper relationships — but how do you actually do it?

To help you more effectively master the art of small talk, we’ll present in this article a mindset for how to think about small talk and a series of behaviors for how to do small talk. The key is to frame your task as getting acquainted with people — and you can do that by focusing on similarities, sharing something about yourself, noticing something about the other person, asking open-ended questions, or even simply saying hello.

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