Do you suffer at small talk? Is it hard to socialize or make conversation with American colleagues? Or maybe you’re great at adding on and making fabulous contributions, but you struggle to engage a discussion from the start. While there’s no small talk formula per se, there are some helpful clues to be seen in three top American news stories this year—the Wikileaks information breach (130 million Google search returns today), the BP oil spill, and the scandalous Tiger Woods coverage.
Americans love conflict. It’s the pulse behind all reality TV shows (Hell’s Kitchen, the Biggest Loser) and the draw to our three stories above. There’s something compelling and climactic about these events; they are the water cooler topics of today.
Perhaps you have overheard some of your American colleagues chat openly about the Wikileaks information breeches, or the BP oil spill, and the relevancy it has for their own lives, their work and the entire industry. Surely you also have an opinion about this? How could you not?! Check out the latest story on Wikileaks versus Bank of America here.
Consider the BP oil spill, which took months to “wrap up”; the conflict intensified exponentially as it evolved. And Tiger Woods, though he has somewhat reeled from public disclosure of his extra marital affairs, continues to pull up in engine searches months later alongside words “scandal”, “affair”, “mistress” and the like.
Has anything like BP, or what happened to Tiger, taken place in your own country? If so, what types of responses have your fellow citizens had? What is the general consensus people have now about these issues, and present day topics of a conflicting nature? Your answers and opinions are very valuable and interesting to your American colleagues. In fact, your opinions and values are such a strong part of the diversity mix—people love to hear from you! Imagine how boring it would be if everyone looked, acted and thought alike at work? Or how unfortunate it would be if there was a richly diverse group, but still, only the 30-50% of people who look-act-and-think alike did all the thinking and talking? If you are willing to contribute openly on contemporary topics, this is one way (among many others) to great conversations and relationship building.
Last point. Small talk is not small, but big. This is where much of the real relationship building actually starts, the secret sauce. Now go find yourself some top controversial topics of the day…and gather your thoughts.
Keep us posted!