A cultural approach to small talk: a double-edged sword of sociocultural reality during socialization into the workplace

Chun Nam Bernie MAK, Hin Leung CHUI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

People transitioning into a workplace usually face the challenge of socializing into their working communities. While small talk is one domain in the process, small talk itself is influenced by ethnicity of participants and norms of the workplace. We present a case study of how a newcomer transitioning toward integral status interacts with small talk in her new workplace. From a linguistic perspective, we examine the discourse of small talk collected from a new expatriate from Philippines, Anna, and her new colleagues in a Hong Kong firm. The analysis illustrates how their small talk is implicitly associated with Filipino core values, Hong Kong social customs, and the local organizational culture. Owing to discrepancies and similarities, small talk can be both a hurdle and an instrument during Anna's socialization. The findings suggest small talk can be an indicator of in/appropriate behavior and un/successful socialization. It can be used for newcomers' development of rapport; it can be used by integral members to mold newcomers into the workplace. Nonetheless, since small talk is not a universal behavior, any attempts can be counterproductive due to various cultural matters. We argue that small talk can be seen as a double-edged sword of sociocultural reality in workplace socialization. Copyright © 2013 Routledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-133
JournalJournal of Multicultural Discourses
Volume8
Issue number2
Early online dateJan 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

Citation

Mak, B. C. N., & Chui, H. L. (2013). A cultural approach to small talk: a double-edged sword of sociocultural reality during socialization into the workplace. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 8(2), 118-133.

Keywords

  • Intercultural communication
  • Organizational socialization
  • Hong Kong
  • Small talk
  • Workplace discourse
  • Cultural discourse

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