A lot of fellow Hungarians, the exact number most likely somewhere in the realm of hundreds of thousands, have chosen to leave their country behind to temporarily or permanently stay in the United Kingdom. This article is the second instalment of the series intended to help these Hungarians in various social interactions.
Shallowness vs staying silent: the art of small-talk
Ever heard the joke about Brits and the weather? Well, it is not entirely uncalled for. Small talk is incredibly important in British etiquette. You are required to participate even if you basically don’t have anything to say: refusal to do so is seen as rude and impolite (and as we all know, politeness is everything in the UK). However, a lot of Hungarians find small talk forced and extremely shallow: so how does one deal with this situation?
As advised previously, your best bet is, unfortunately, to go along.
Be creative and find a topic that you think most people can relate to and is not hard to talk about
It does seem like a nightmare for introverts, but most likely, you will not have to keep the conversation up for long. It is essential to understand that small talk is mostly used as a replacement for the awkward silence that some other cultures have no problems with. Are you paying for groceries at the cashier? Ask them about the weather. Are you stuck with strangers in a lift? Have a go at the weather “we’re having”. Left with someone you don’t know at a party? Express your opinion on the terrible weather that has been plaguing the country lately.
Jokes aside, the point is: small talk is a polite way of dismissing the awkwardness that comes up in situations like these: the same situations that tend to make Brits really uncomfortable. One, and perhaps more important question is how to deal with the reality that sometimes you cannot “go deep” in conversations here on the British Isles: but that is a tale for another article.