How to do professional small talk in a business environment
The "informal information" that rotates in a company is often called jungle drums or "Buschfunk" in German. It is important for all new employees and difficult to have access to for them.
Insider information about the reorganization of departments, new bosses and jobs, relocations and private affairs are often communicated that way. It is not always true, rumors and legends spread but this makes the "Buschfunk" even more interesting. So how can I quickly gain access to that information and be included in that information circle?
Here are 8 essential tips for doing advanced small talk in a German company:
- Strive to be perceived as a pleasant and supportive partner and colleague in a conversation. Be respectful, courteous, positive and polite.
- Find an access point that allows you to enter a conversation. The easiest way is to show your interest in the topic discussed is to ask questions about what seems to be most important for the other person - the job, ones dream car or the last holiday trip. People love it if others are interested in what they like and fancy.
- Honesty is a matter of course and should always be the character of your conversation because "lies have short legs," as a German proverb says and will not take you anywhere in the long run.
- Do not gossip about others even though others love to do it. Listen and do not comment on it.
- Do not get too close to anyone by asking too much about family relationships.
- Be a good listener: Signalize via your body language that you are interested in the speaker and his subject by turning towards him. If the opportunity arises, engage into the conversation with a short question. This is how you draw attention to yourself and allows you to provide impulses for further one-on-one discussions.
- Do not get lost in monologues and watch out how much speaking time your are taking. Try to include listeners and invite them to present their ideas and thoughts on the topics. Place a good argument to end the conversation: "Now, work is calling again. I have to go back to my desk."
- Avoid ambivalent topics. Everything that concerns faith, politics, personalities and social conflicts can cause extreme sympathies or antipathies. Avoid these topics and discuss internal company processes you have experienced recently in a positive! way.
Further tips with detailed explanations can be found in our German / English-language book "More than Manners" - Business Etiquette in Germany -
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