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When small talk fails to translate culturally




A Wal-Mart greeter speaks with a shopper who is leaving a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Bowling Green, Ohio.
A Wal-Mart greeter speaks with a shopper who is leaving a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Bowling Green, Ohio.
J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

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In Newyorker.com this week, writer Karan Mahajan writes of the one thing he finds to be quintessentially American. His choice: small talk.

The Indian American writer marvels at the time and energy Americans spent chatting up everyone from the taxi driver, to the convenient clerk, to the barista.

“During these years in the small-talk wilderness, I also wondered why Americans valued friendliness with commerce so much,” he writes.

Is small talk an American thing? Do you engage in it? Do you enjoy it, or do you shy away from it?

Guest:

Debra Fine, author of the book, “The Fine Art of Small Talk” (Hachette Books, 2005), which has been published in 20 countries