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The Serious Business of Small Talk by Carol Fleming

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15The Mystery of Good Manners

WARMTH, RESPECT, AND SMALL TALK

The details and formalities of good manners vary wildly around the world. Knowledge of cultural practices is becoming increasingly important as we travel more and as America becomes more diverse through immigration. There is some form of small talk in all cultures, ranging from a little to a lot. We’ll look at some examples in this chapter.

The range of good manners is a book in itself and I’m not the one to write it, but there is something important to recognize beyond specific cultural practices and that is the concept of politeness. I find it useful to consider politeness as being on a gradient between warmth and respect, friendliness and formality. Warmth obviously includes smiling, ...

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