Russian small-talk. What’s the difference?

Some people say that Russians and Americans are very similar. I disagree — we are totally different.

Let’s take «small talk» as example.  Small talk is a conversation between people who don’t know each other at all. Americans are born with this ability. They enjoy it and master it and I admire this skill.

When I first came to America I was very confused and even annoyed with people who tried to «small-talk» me. But slowly I got to know American culture, became less shy and more positive. Small talk for me is mostly compliments exchange. Isn’t it nice to make short conversation and compliment a total stranger?

Small talk "Russian way"

Small talk «Russian way»

I like talking to my neighbors about a weekend. Sometimes I learn new food recipes from cashiers… And we always share our gratitude to «beautiful weather» in California.

Not long ago Russian family from St.Petersburg moved to our building. We had small talk about «where you are from». Next time I’ve met them, I was with my husband and introduced them. And then I was «a little» puzzled when they asked «How much did you pay for your apartment?». As you understand, money, politics and religion are prohibited topics in a small talk with strangers. I changed conversation, telling them that I just came back from Russia and how much I loved my trip. «From Russia? Wow! Do you own a property there? Do you rent it out»? — obviously, people were interested in finding out about my finances and nothing else. It was rude. That «small talk» in Russian shows the difference between Russian and American mentality. Americans compliment you, Russians get to your wallet…