Having a conversation about where you live or come from is often an effective way of introducing yourself to another person, and also of getting to know more about them. In a business environment, we often get to meet people from other countries, or parts of our own country that we haven’t been to or don't know much about.

Keep in mind, though, that talking about your country or home town is just small talk. The topic of discussion does not matter as much as the flow of the conversation and getting on good terms with the person you are talking to. When talking about your country, try to avoid controversial topics such as religion and politics. You don’t want to antagonize or offend the person you are talking to in any way. The safest topics related to your country are about business, places of interest or current events. Keep your responses fairly brief and also open-ended, so that the listener has a chance to respond. Ask questions in turn about the listener’s country. You don’t want to dominate the conversation or bore your listener who may simply have used an opener like “Where are you from?” to start a conversation.

The two dialogues in this lesson present examples of how to talk about your country and your city. Listen for tips on how to respond to questions and also to give your listener signs showing you are interested in what he or she is talking about.

SITUATION 1

You are now going to listen to a dialogue between Jamal, a pharmacology consultant in New Delhi, and Debbie, an American who works for a company based in New York. Debbie has recently arrived in India. Jamal and Debbie have just finished a business meeting about Debbie’s plans to set up a branch office in India.

 
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