6 phrases to kick-off a conversation.

Whether it’s business, a chance meeting, a (casual) chinwag, a gossip session, a deep and meaningful or even a reprimand, here are some kick-off phrases to get someone’s attention and invite them to talk.

It’s all about business with a colleague / boss:

“Can I have a quick word (in private)?” BTW (By The Way) not ‘under 4 eyes’ – that’s Denglish). We say “On/off the record”.

A chance meeting in the corridor “Glad I caught you/we bumped into each other, have you got a sec/minute?”

A chinwag, “Bend your ear, for a sec(ond)?”

A good old gossip session “Between you, me and the gate-post, did you know/have you heard ….?”

A deep & meaningful,“I need to talk/a shoulder to cry on”

A reprimand aka telling off /bollocking, “Oh, Preston, in my office, & make haste/on the double/chop, chop.”

It’s always good to ask first. Then a bit of ‘small talk’ (except for the boss’s rant/reprimand – just keep it shut before getting down to the nitty- gritty and issue at hand.

In various cultures, business etiquette expects varying lengths of ‘(in)/formal introductions’ and ‘small talk’ at the beginning of a business meeting? In his book, ‘When cultures collide’, Richard Lewis sets out a chart showing the length of time it takes as a rule of thumb at the beginning of a meeting to get down to business (page 154 Fig. 10.1) It varies from under 5 mins in the US, Germany and Finland, UK up to 10 minutes, Japan up to 20 mins and surprise, surprise the Spanish /Italians with up to 30 minutes (obviously killing time to wait for the stranglers to show up – only joking Pedro – a Spanish friend of mine).

Happy chinwagging today.

A chance (meeting) (zufällig), casual (locker), chinwag (chat = Gespräch), gossip (Büroklatsch), a deep & meaningful (conversation) (ernstes Gespräch), reprimand (Zurechtweisung), on/off the record (sich offiziell äußern), to bump into sb (jdn in die Arme laufen), to bend sb ear (jdn zutexten), “between you, me and the gate-post” (im Vertrauen gesagt), telling off (Anpfiff ), bollocking (Anschiss), make haste / on the double / chop, chop (Beeil dich), to keep it shut (Klappe halten), to get down to the nitty gritty (zur Sache kommen), at hand (hier: vorliegend), varying (unterschiedlich), rule of thumb (als Faustregel), stranglers (Nachzügler), to show up (auftauchen)

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