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I came to the UK to work on contract through software company.

I've been in the UK now for more than 2 years now, but I'm still not able to make much rapport or personal friendship with westerners in our office because I don't want to spoil anything by talking unwantedly.

All I am doing is just working and maintaining the conversations related to work.

I want to build good rapport. I'm clueless on this. Keeping our cultural differences in mind, how can I have fun conversations without offending anyone and build some good relationship?

closed as too broad by ankii, ElizB, Ælis, NVZ, gparyani Oct 20 at 3:04

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    welcome here :) do you have any contacts with westerners outside of work, like friends ? – GlorfSf Oct 17 at 8:51
  • Yes , I know some people but I don't know anyone like friend – dinesh R Oct 17 at 14:45
  • There can be multiple scenarios in which this question can be answered.. Also it invites list like answers that makes it off-topic as in help center. Could you narrow it down a little bit using edit and that will put it on review for reopening. :) – ankii Oct 20 at 13:43
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    Do your colleagues build personal friendships with each other? Do they engage in conversation with each other? Do you eat together, e.g lunch? Companies themselves have different cultures. Especially in the software industry, differences can be quite large. Please elaborate. Many Europeans even have trouble building friendships in the UK, do you mean exclusively e.g. British people or is your work place already diverse? (Btw, yes, many not all or most, I don't know how many, but it seems to happen now and then) – Raditz_35 Oct 20 at 20:37
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In Western culture, you don't have to be afraid of talking about things that are not work-related. At my own workplace, many colleagues even prefer to ban any work-related talk during lunch break. They argue that work hours are work time and lunch break is free time, so they want to do and talk about things that don't directly contribute to their work.

I see and hear my colleagues talk about private stuff often enough during work hours, just to have a short break and "free their mind" for a few minutes.

As far as I know, small talk differs a little between Asian and Western cultures. In Western culture, there usually isn't a dominant speaker or moderator who leads the talk into a certain direction or makes sure everyone is included into the conversation. People just say whatever they currently think about and take turns speaking. That also means you have to start speaking unsolicited to be part of the conversation.

It is absolutely acceptable to join a conversation if:

  • You listened to what the people are talking about for a short time, just to understand the topic and make sure you can contribute to the talk instead of changing the topic.
  • The topic is appropriate. If people are talking about serious or private matters (like politics, finances, age or health issues or relationship breakups) you should not intervene. If people are just talking about their last weekend, holiday plans or whatever they heard in the news, it's safe to join the conversation.
  • You keep the mood. You should be able to pick up the mood of the people quite easily. Just like you shouldn't suddenly change the topic, you shouldn't change the mood by making jokes or laughing in a more serious conversation.

Once you decided to join a conversation, there is a certain etiquette to follow. Don't be afraid to make any mistakes. These rules are designed to make conversations enjoyable for everyone involved. You should know them, but usually no-one will reprimand you if you make mistakes. I know more than enough people who ignore or break some of these rules regularily. They still participate in conversations, some people just don't like talking to them as much.

  • Try not to interrupt other speakers. Wait until they finished a sentence before speaking.
  • Look at the person you're addressing, but don't stare them in the eyes. If you talk with several people, look at everyone in turn to include them in the conversation.
  • Smile if it fits the situation. Keep your body language open (don't fold your arms in fron of your body like a wall).
  • Respect personal space. Stay close enough to be part of the conversation, but keep around an arm's length of space between you and others.
  • If you don't know a person or a certain topic very well, ask questions to show your interest.
  • Dont dominate the conversation. Say a few things, then make a pause to allow other people to speak.
  • Don't randomly change the topic. Let the conversation flow naturally from one topic to the next without abruptly changing it.
  • Don't gossip about other people or tell rude jokes.
  • Don't insist on convincing anyone. Every person has their own oppinions and often enough you're not convinced of someones oppinion, just like you cannot convince them. It's ok to disagree and acknowledge this disagreement, but you should not start a fight because of that.

More about small talk etiquette can be found on
Etiquette Guide
Conversation Etiquette

Your question suggests that finding the right moment to speak is your biggest problem. If someone asks you a question, there is no doubt you are supposed to speak. But in small talk each person usually has to start talking unsolicited whenever they want to speak. You can use small words and sounds that announce that you want to speak without interrupting the current speaker. You just say the first word while the previous speaker might still be talking, then wait until they finished and you have the oppostunity to complete your sentence. Some examples are:

Well [pause], I heard a different story...
Uhm [pause], I heard that...
Oh [pause], I heard about that...
Huh [pause], I never heard about that...
Wow [pause], I never thaught...

I'm sure there are things that are very different in your home country, like local flora and fauna, customs and traditions or cultural events. Talking about the differences and similarities of our cultures can be very interesting to your colleagues. And even if you don't want to talk about your home country, you are a unique person with unique memories and experiences. Just getting to know you can be interesting for your colleagues as well. There is no reason at all to assume that you can only talk to them about work because otherwise you might say something wrong or boring.

I found a very good article on how to do smalltalk that is intended for introverts, but I think it will help you a lot. Forbes: An Introvert's Guide To Small Talk

The main advice summed up is:

  • Reduce your own anxiety by being aware of it and what caused it
  • Remind yourself that smalltalk can be the foundation to have deeper conversations and build relationships with people
  • Show interest in the topic and what the other person has to say
  • If you are uncomfortable disclosing information about you, ask questions instead
  • Instead of asking simple questions that can be answered in one word, ask open-ended questions that can inspire discussions.
  • Do not provide one-word, closed responses; these cut the conversation short. Instead, embellish your responses with juicy tidbits of information.
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So as a UK software developer, they all have social events (well they do in Yorkshire). Go on them, don't talk about work.

Try to find somebody who has the same hobby as you, board gaming is really popular and you can always find 2 or 3 people to organise board evenings with. Or if you are more sporty ask people who do the same sport if you can "do it" with them, running and cycling appear the most popular round here. If your crowd are younger ask to join a football team.

People won't think you are being uncouth and pushy, they will just think you want to join in, and hobby people are always trying to get more people involved (compare it to a church trying to get new converts) so they are more than happy.

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    I think that the hidden meaning behind the question OP asked is something along the line of: "if I get to any of those events, I'm afraid that I might use wrongs words, or wrong way of talking, making fun, and look weird or annoy people.". It seems not like getting to the event, rather how you'd behave when there. And I'm pretty sure you should take that into account when answering ;) – OldPadawan Oct 17 at 10:26
  • @OldPadawan I'm not good at hidden meanings. – WendyG Oct 17 at 11:17
  • that's the point I had in mind = "have fun conversations without offending anyone" – OldPadawan Oct 17 at 12:50
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    @OldPadawan well I do almost cover that with "People won't think you are being uncouth and pushy," – WendyG Oct 17 at 13:06
  • Mkay :) we didn't understand OP and the answer the same way I guess, no big deal :)) – OldPadawan Oct 17 at 13:08
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I am an American developer, but I attended grad school with a few Indian classmates. Some are successful at socializing with Americans and have remained my friends since graduation. Here are some characteristics I've observed among the more successful:

They have a better command of English. The others talk too slowly for a normal conversation, and often have poor grammar and/or make poor word choices to the point where it's difficult to understand them. Your written English may be decent (it seems passable in your question here), but spoken fluency is a different skill.

Related: having enough command of English to joke in English. Don't do what some of my annoying classmates do: tell a joke in your native language, then translate it into English and explain why it's funny. Jokes usually don't translate across languages, and cultural references even less so. (As a warning, one of my classmates developed a reputation as a misogynist because he keeps making jokes about his wife that might be acceptable in India but to American ears, they sound really disrespectful to his wife.)

They're good at making small talk. "How was your day?" "Any plans for the weekend?" "Doing anything tonight?" and other questions come naturally to them.

It's just going to come with exposure. Put yourself out there, try to converse with people, and your skills will improve - just as with anything else in life.

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