Reader’s Question:

Hey @BeeSwedish do you have any tips on fika room small talk? How to begin a conversation when you have no idea where to start.

 

Swedes are rather infamous for the lacking small-talk skills. We even call it kallprat – cold talk, which says a lot about our view on it. But there are some classis topics that most of us can relate to.

 

The weather

Of course. Today’s weather, comparison between this winter and last. Expectations for the summer. How you felt this morning looking out the window.

 

Interior decoration and renovation

Plumbers, good and bad, are subject to great fascination. A new sofa for your new living room, or not? Has anyone been to IKEA recently?

 

Children and pets

What tricks they have learnt recently, and what illnesses they have come down with? Photos!

 

Anything that involves numbers

This is safe territory for Swedes. Quantifying things is thrilling. Temperatures, distances, speed, heights, volumes. Preferably as extreme as possible. This might not generate small-talk, but rather a lecture.

 

How crazy Sweden is, and the stupidity of our language.

Another lecture. Do not agree too much, they might be offended.

 

Taboos

If your fika partner is not a very close friend, you should avoid all topics that involve personal opinions. Politics, for example, or the current political situation in Sweden. Disagreements are considered bad, per definition. In general, the more you express your agreement to your average Swede, the more will they talk. Many Swedes fail to understand sarcasm, too, so go easy with the jokes.

 

Make pauses

If your Swedish partner is not saying much, it might be because they get the impression you are not giving them the chance. When you have said something, make a long pause to signal to your conversation partner that it is their turn.

 

Say nothing at all

But most importantly, when having fika with a Swede, is to accept the idea that staying silent not only acceptable, but also enjoyable.

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