Leaving Mumbai going back to Delhi.... In Mumbai I met up with a new client, who was introduced to me for the first time. Coming to meet with client, one of the challenges faced by most people is starting a conversation, especially in business where a poor or wrong start off can mess up a meeting.
Let me share with you a little instance, it happens during the World Cup held in Germany a few years ago. A young Malaysian professional approaches an Indian business man. It is their first meeting. He started the conversation about the state of the World Cup - the game , the top scorer, the poor performers of the stars etc. The monologue went on for sometime and eventually annoyed the Indian. You see, to an Indian there is only one World Cup and that is the Cricket World Cup, the other World Cup which the rest of the world is watching is not so important :) The Indian is passionate about his cricket and when the conversation started he was trying to expressed that the Cricket World Cup is the more popular and exciting while to the young man Soccer is the main World Cup watched by more people than the Indian sub continent put together. It went into a bad argument.
The introduction did not go on very well.
I called this introduction, the art of small talk. It can be learn and I believe practice make perfect. It is an art as there are many ways to expressed this artistry.
In my approach, the art of small talk is "TAT / TAY / TAM" (sounds good not very sure what the meaning if it is expressed in Hindi or Urdu or Tamil ?)
1.TAT = Talk about them
The THEM in this instance is the place, the environment, the country, the current affair etc. General topics, non discretionary and non opinionated. In the case of India it would be Cricket, Bollywood and Cars.
2.Talk about you
The YOU is the client/customer and the topics can be family, education and health. The approach should be sharing. Never patronizing. The no-no topics are sex, politics and religion :)
3. Talk about me
The ME is about yourself. This will not be too difficult, however customization is needed. Have a full version of about yourself that can be played like a recorder in your mind and when it come to TAM, just customize it to the situation and the objects intended.
There is no sequence to TAT/TAY/TAM. It application depends the situation and event. But to do well you need to do your home work. Read, watch and analyze. Information is every where. From the airport newspaper counter to observing the traffic on your way to your visit. One little trick worth noting is the office and desk of your client / customer. People put this info about themselves all over their working habitat, you just need to see it and talk about it.... like the photo of the family, the souvenir from Thailand etc...... the conversation piece is endless .... even the clothing of the person is a conversation topic if you know how to do it. A desk or office without any souvenir is also a topic for small talk....Think about it :)
Tomorrow I return to Singapore and will conclude on the experience of this visit....