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Is it an American thing to value small talk before meetings? I’m working with a European team and they just get straight to the point. Very unpleasant imo.

likefunnyhelpful
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I have a French team member who I feel chit-chats just to annoy the Germans!

But I am all for cutting it out. I feel compelled to make small talk to set people at ease. I received feedback from my globally dispersed team that I am too stern and ‘no fun’ 🤓 — so I have had to lighten up, make small talk, and basically use the first 1-2 mins to let people settle in and feel comfortable before diving into the agenda. Each day I hope there is an unusual weather phenomenon happening somewhere as am running out of small talk topics. Sports and most current events don’t resonate the same way across the team so it’s mostly weather and COVID related small talk.

funnylike

How about food? 😂

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Been working in Switzerland for the last few years now in a very Swiss German firm. As a Canadian, especially one who had worked in wealth management, I had always been used to doing a lot of small talk. The Swiss are certainly more to the point than Canadians but once you break their shell, they can be genuinely a pleasure to work with. They do not do as much small talk but if your client knows and likes you, he will be much more willing to engage in small talk. I once had the CFO of a client check my half marathon time online.

All in all, I find that with the Swiss, try to learn about them and their culture and they will be surprisingly willing to share with you.

Just my 2 cents

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Euro team sounds great

likefunnysmartuplifting

Meanwhile in Japan you can work with someone for 20 years and not know if they even have a family

likefunnyupliftinghelpful

Haha I worked in Japan for a year and this is 100% true

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Here we go. Another post where an American thinks of Europe as one single country and one culture 🤦🏽‍♀️

likefunnysmart

C9, don’t defend us.

Maybe I should be more specific. This is a Germany team. I’m not sure if the French or English would be different.

likefunny

Ex C at BCG Paris, small talk is 50% of internal meeting, higher in client meetings :)

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Same thing in Asia. No one cares what you did over the weekend.

likefunnyuplifting

Not true for Asia as a whole just Japan and Korea. Hong kongers, philippines, thai, chinese, indians love small talk, although is not at a personal level though but more like the british small talk, weather and stuff like that... more generic just to get the english flowing before talking business. This lasts 1-2 mins

I have a senior manager who small talks 20 minutes in a 30 minute meeting then cuts out 5 minutes early. I'm not even joking.

likefunny

If I am the organizer or attending the meeting, I generally allow max 5 min for a 30 call for small talk . Looks like your SM is a genius 🤣😂

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Why do people care for small talk? You have a set time to solve a problem then move on. Do your job and small talk with your partner/friend/dog at the end of the day.

likefunnyupliftingsmart

^

If you dislike small talk, please never ever move to the middle east. About 3 hours of small talk over tea and shesha is required before any business can be accomplished in some countries on the Gulf.

likefunny

I used to work in Sales in India and it was the same. Most customer would want to shoot the breeze, drink chai go out for a smoke and then we would talk business. Relationships came first - business would just happen on the side.

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Sounds like I need to marry a German

likefunny

Straight into business - No foreplay required

funnylike

I recommend reading the book « The Culture Map » on the topic, by Erin Meyer. Very insightful!

likehelpful

Glad i could be of use with the reco! I found that it reads really well/easily too. :)

Depends which culture and country. Germans are straight to the point. French can be blunt, but they still do small talk. In Italy, small talk is an important way to get to know one another; it’s rarely just about the weather or a tv show you’re watching.

likesmart

The culture here in Germany is one of work hard, play hard. Outside of consulting or work with long hours, people take their "Feierabend" (not easily translated but roughly translates to celebration evenings after work) as a sacred time to relax, spend time with family, go outside etc. Maybe your team simply doesn't want to waste time so that they can spend that time doing the things they value. If you think about it, 5 or 10mins of chitchat per call adds up to easily over an hour each day.

If your problem is that they are rather cold or blunt, give them some time. Germans can of course be very warm, lovely and funny but it takes time for them to get there with people they don't know well or trust.

Also when dealing with different cultures, please don't go with the mindset its my way or the highway. Its all about adaptation, compromise, finding a balance that works for all.

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SAP1 - Consulting hours in Germany are pretty brutal during the week.

To stick to the original topic - yeah Germans do not like chit chatting in the way Americans or Brits do. I'm Dutch, was on a German team and was told once "Why are you always blabbing so much - get to the f-ing point" by a German partner.

likefunny

Agree w the consulting hours being brutal - that’s why I work for SAP now 😀

As an American I find small talk before meetings very unpleasant. I wish we were more like Europeans and other cultures that get right to the point.

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Small talk is super important for better bonding and collaboration . Meeting organizer should allocate sometime for this .

likefunny

Can you say more^ I’m curious? Do we come off as inauthentic?

Germans are the king of straight talk. No mincing words, no walking on egg shells, border line non-pc by US standards. Very difficult to fake it in Germany - you will get exposed very quickly. At the same time they value time away from work and never mix the two. If you’re on holiday - you are out. Working past normal hours is also frowned upon. Coming from B4 this was a very pleasant surprise to me. No more Sunday evening scares 😁

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Can confirm that Tier 2 strategy and B4 has worse hours than US offices. Moved from US to Germany, and the WLB got worse.

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Haha my friend sent me this screenshot. Guess who is the German on this chat

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NEIN

Small talk maybe 2-3 mins at the start then I get straight to the point. Usually end meetings 10-15 mins early. I love it. Don’t like when people just drag it on just to use up the allotted time

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This movie says different

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Wolf of wall street

likeuplifting

I was born & raised in America and I abhor small talk. Unless we’re actually friends, I promise you I don’t care what you did over the weekend and it’s none of your business how I spent mine. Let’s get down to what we’re here for.

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