Over at the Macmillan Dictionary Blog, it’s small talk month. The most recent post asks “is small talk different in the US and UK?”, to which the answer is yes!
The post is aimed at Brits interacting with Americans. I thought it might be interesting for Americans to get a British perspective on their small talk. An extract:
Finally, saying farewell:
You’re going to find this so easy. Do nothing. The Americans will do it all for you and they are so much better at it.
You know how we have the expression ‘saying our goodbyes’ in British English? Americans don’t have it. They just ‘say goodbye’ because they only need to do it once. So you can forget all our, ‘Is that the time?’, ‘I really should be going …’, ‘Well, anyway …’ nonsense. And you know that situation where we start getting out the door and someone says something which means we have to go back to the beginning of the conversation and start all over again? It doesn’t happen here.
So let the Americans handle the farewell. They will do it with aplomb with phrases like ‘Take care’ and ‘It’s been nice talking to you’ and ‘Catch you later’ – things our mothers should have taught us. Just keep quiet, listen and learn. (Source: Macmillan Dictionary Blog)
Saying goodbye is something I certainly have difficulty with – being English I will often agonise over how to end a conversation without seeming rude! Often I invent an excuse (“I promised my housemate I’d make dinner tonight” or similar) in order to ease myself out of a situation. I definitely identify with Clare in the comments!
Do you have any examples of the way small talk is different between the US and UK? How do you say farewell without seeming rude?