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Dasha Gladenko, Tagirova Nailya, Chertenko Artem

Small talk is an informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed. The ability to conduct small talk is a social skill; hence, small talk is some type of social communication. It serves many functions in helping to define the relationships between friends, work colleagues, and new acquaintances. In particular, it helps new acquaintances to explore and categorize each other's social position. Small talk is closely related to the need for people to maintain positive face – to feel approved by those who are listening to them.

Purposes of small talk:

1) Conversation opener. When the talkers do not know each other, it allows them to show that they have friendly intentions and desire some sort of positive interaction. In a business meeting, it enables people to establish each other's reputation and level of expertise. Where there is already a relationship between the two talkers, their small talk serves as a gentle introduction before engaging in more functional topics of conversation. It allows them to signal their own mood and to sense the mood of the other person.

2) Softening the parting at the end of a conversation. Suddenly ending an exchange may risk appearing to reject the other person. Small talk can be used to mitigate that rejection and affirm the relationship between the two people.

3) Space filler to avoid silence. In many cultures silences between two people are usually considered uncomfortable. Tension can be reduced by starting phatic talk until a more substantial subject arises.

Topics.The topics of small talk conversations are generally less important than their social function. The selected topic usually depends on any pre-existing relationship between the two people, and the circumstances of the conversation. In either case, someone initiating small talk will tend to choose a topic for which they can assume a shared background knowledge, to prevent the conversation being too one-sided. Topics can be summarised as being either direct or indirect. Direct topics include personal observations such as health or looks. Indirect topics refer to a situational context such as the latest news, or the conditions of the communicative situation. Some topics are considered to be "safe" in most circumstances:

- The weather;

- Recent shared experiences, for example "Good weather last night, wasn't it?";

- Television and films;

- Sports.

Tips for successful small talk:

-Remember, it is necessary to read everything: newspapers, magazines, reviews, product inserts, maps, signs and catalogs. Everything is a source of information that can be discussed.

- Keep a journal. Write down funny stories you hear, beautiful things you see, quotes, observations, shopping lists and calls you made. That story of the long-distance operator misunderstanding you could become an opening line.

- Talk to yourself in the mirror. Make a random list of topics and see what you have to say on the subjects. Baseball, Russia, butter, hip-hop, shoes etc. The more varied your list, the better.

- Expand your horizons. Try something new every day.

- Work on confidence, overcoming shyness and any feelings of stage fright. Remember, the more you know, the more you know you can talk about.


1. Small talk [Электронный ресурс]. – Режим доступа к документу :

2. How to Make Small Talk [Электронный ресурс]. – Режим доступа к документу :

3. Susan Roanne. Big Deal about Small Talk [Электронный ресурс]. – Режим доступа к документу :

4. How to Make Small Talk [Электронный ресурс]. – Режим доступа к документу :

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