30 Tips on the art of small talk!

Communications Tips (NRI and ESL Tips): Small Talk – how to carry-on a conversation effectively.

“Conversation should touch everything, but should concentrate itself on nothing.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I have written before on the importance of small talk . Small talk is a conversation, chit-chat or an informal discussion without any specific topic or subject. Small talk generally is not a problem if we are among our family and friends; there is always something to talk about. However, once we step into a wider social circle, it may become challenging at times to keep the conversation going or even start a conversation. Here are some of the tips on how to avoid uncomfortable situations, and carry on a small talk in all types of social settings:

1. Be a good listener: Pay attention and listen to what others are talking about. Good listening provides additional understanding about the people we are communicating with.

2. Introduce yourself if needed: Introduce yourself first, especially if you are in a new to the gathering, party or event.

3. Take queue from other’s conversation: This helps with the continuity of the discussion.

4. Ask questions…small ones: Questions or clarifications are important to understand the others involved in the conversation. The questions could be about the discussion going on, or general questions to ‘get-to-know’ the company. Continue reading “30 Tips on the art of small talk!”

The imprortance of small talk

NRIs and ESL Tips: Importance of small talk in a conversation

Don’t tell your friends about your indigestions: “How are you!” is a greeting, not a question.
~Arthur Guiterman, A Poet’s Proverbs
Many of us, especially those with English as a second language (ESL),  often struggle with social communications and the language barrier. However, this article is written for anyone who may need some extra help with improving their communication skills.
Small talk is a conversation just for the sake of conversation. It does not have to have any specific topic or agenda. The small talk is considered a very important part of our overall communication or daily interactions with others.

Small talk is a big deal:  The small talk is important for so many reasons:

– it is essential for a smooth and effective communication with anybody we talk to.

– it creates a good first impression.

– it leads to a  lively and friendly conversation.

– if you are a good ‘small talker’ you will come across as an open and more friendly person

– it is an essential tool for effective interaction in any social settings.

– it leaves a lasting impression on the other party.

– it gives you more confidence as a speaker.

Parts of conversation:

In terms of overall conversation, small talk is very important throughout any communications. Following are the key functions of a small talk in any speech or discussion: Continue reading “The imprortance of small talk”

10 most uncommon business ideas for overseas!

NRI Tips: Most uncommon or non-traditional business ideas to consider abroad

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

There are some popular business ideas for overseas, including the one discussed in 10 most common businesses to start abroad. Now, here are some not-so-common ones. This should get you thinking, to make your own choice – from these suggestions or perhaps even better ones of your own based on your knowledge, skill and circumstances!  sxc1088992_glass_bangles

1. Indian fashion accessories: Consider an online or local store to sell Indian fashion accessories including glass bangles, simple Indian jewelries and other beauty items. This can start at a small scale and expand as the business grows

2. Pet care and grooming: A place to take care of pets including grooming, styling and domesticating. If you love pets, may want to look into this one. Continue reading “10 most uncommon business ideas for overseas!”

A self-help guide to lose your accent!

NRI Tips: A complete guide on accent reduction and English language accent improvement!

Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibration as in twanging them to bring out their music. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

This is one of the final segments of a series of articles written on how to lose your accent. This article includes a brief summary of earlier posts, tips based on personal experiments with different approaches and some additional tools on accent softening.

Before we start, it is very important to remember that:

-Our success or failure depends on our commitment. However, it is easier to make a commitment toward a goal, if we know that ‘help’ is around the corner – ‘help’ such as this information.

-Nobody can help us better than ourselves.

With that in mind, the information below is a self-help or a guide on accent softening, accent reduction and how to lose your accent ultimately:

Accent is normal: We all have accent, it is the way we speak; it is the way we used to talk in our neighborhood growing up. It only becomes an accent when we leave our neighborhood and go far away where they speak differently. Even within the same country, the same language is spoken with different slang, and in different style. Have you ever seen a white person in India trying to speak Hindi? Now, that is an accent; it is more than an accent – most of the time it is a slaughterhouse 🙂 ! So don’t feel too bad if someone tell you that you have a ‘thick’ accent. This is normal. You can read more about accent basics in this linked post.

How to lose or soften your accent: The main process and methods are detailed in the post titled ‘How to lose your accent’. It has received some very good reviews all around. Out of all the segments mentioned here, if you have time for only one article, this is the article you should go to. The process of accent softening – as outlined in the linked article – involves following key steps:

a. Break the habit of old speaking ways

b. Be a good listener Continue reading “A self-help guide to lose your accent!”

10 most common business ideas abroad!

NRI Tips: Common Businesses to start overseas!

There are many ways to make a good living abroad, owning your own business is one of them.  A business operation and ownership is not for everybody, you have to have an aptitude for ventures, willingness to take risks and understanding of different aspects of operating a business. Depending on your ambitions and circumstances, it may become an around-the-clock effort that comes with equally big rewards and big downsides. Along with the day-dreams of prosperity to follow, you and your stakeholders – family, partners, and investors – should also understand the possibility of losing your shirt.
For those, who have done their homework and understand the pros and cons of opening a business, here are some of the most common ones to consider:
1. Indian Grocery store: In the USA, Canada, England and other courtiers with Indian diaspora, there is quite a bit demand for Indian supplies and common grocery items used in Indian cooking. This kind of business is ideal for the area with high concentration of Indian population. Continue reading “10 most common business ideas abroad!”

Do you ‘think’ in your mother tongue?

The ‘unconscious adaption’ to the foreign culture and language.

When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself. ~ Plato

sxc_man_thinkingI talk to myself all the times, I always have. Bigger the dilemma, more I talk; this is also another way of my brainstorming and mulling over new ideas.

Be it a thinking out loud or in whispers or in silence, thinking is part of being human. Thinking and logic is what separates us from the animals. We all think, it is a part of our problem solving nature.

For those living overseas or away from the place of your childhood, do you ‘think’ in your mother tongue or the adopted foreign/new language?

Back home in India, my train of thought was always in my mother tongue. It was natural; speaking the same language as my brain, thinking something and then saying it loud during the conversation. It was automatic -without noticeable delays.

And then, I came to America. 🙂

When I first came here, I recall that I continued to think in my mother tongue, even when talking to my American colleagues – in a meeting at work or any other social settings. I used to think in my mother tongue, and then I would translate my thoughts it into English for the verbal exchange. At times it slowed me down; It was no longer automatic. I used to re-phrase a lot. This is how it was; I never thought it would change much.

However, lately I find myself thinking in English more and more often. Continue reading “Do you ‘think’ in your mother tongue?”

How to make a good living abroad! – $$!!

NRIs Tips: How to select work and financial options overseas!

As I discussed before, there are many good reason to go abroad and then there are some bad ones too. Most of the main reasons to leave India and go overseas are directly or indirectly linked to the search for long term or short term financial gains and prosperity. By end of the day, it comes down to MONEY. 🙂 sxc_money_series_51
However, the often overlooked factor is the poor planning behind all this. If we are sacrificing so much, and put up with so many new hurdles and challenges, we should at least have a solid plan to find the right occupation or business.
The plan may vary from one person to another depending on personal strengths and weakness, but it is important to have a plan towards reaching our financial goals; how we are going to succeed in our mission toward prosperity.
There is all kind of job planning info available, but most of them are more generic career plans for local individuals planning their goals, not for immigrants, Indians or NRIs. As a part of the basic plan, it is very critical to outline and understand:
– What kind of jobs best suit your skills and needs?
– Would you consider and take a position that is less rewarding as a back-up plan?
– Would you consider a career change or downgrade if things are not working out?
– What are the other options or choices to consider as a back-up?
– Is going back to India one of the options?

Depending on how you answer the questions above and any other personal circumstances, you can then decide on the best jobs or best options to support your financial plan abroad. Here are some of the main options to consider for a suitable and rewarding job or business:

  1. Find your dream job – Plan A: The best possible scenario is to look for a job that meets your skill sets and then finding one. If you are a computer engineer by trade for example, then first preference should be to search for a job in that field.  There are lots of online and local resources to help in this area. Make sure to take a look at the  job-search tips detailed in a separate post linked here. Also check out the common online resources such as  Career Builder, Yahoo Careers and Monster.com. If you find one, especially in this economy, consider it a major achievement.
  2. Continue reading “How to make a good living abroad! – $$!!”

Expecting a boy or a girl? Test baby-gender at home!

Over-the-counter product to predict baby gender

It is the nature of science and its followers– to keep coming up with new inventions and new discoveries. How we use them is a different story.ignewboxwhitenew-01 🙂
Intelligender, a Texas based company, has created a ‘boy or girl gender prediction test’. The expecting moms can use this test on a urine sample as early as 10 weeks after the conception to determine the sex of the baby. The accuracy rate of the test is at 78-80%.

The manufacturing company specifically suggests not to make any emotional or financial decision based on this test, and to continue to rely on the traditional and more reliable test from your doctor at later stage in the pregnancy.
So, what is the point of this test?
Well, it provides additional piece of information ahead of time, for those who cannot wait, the company says.

While this test is a way to address the curiosity of the expecting parents, its ‘side-effects’ could be significant. As we all know, in many cultures and countries including India, a baby boy is often welcome more than a little girl. That is how it is, especially among the older generation. So, if the test predicts a girl, the news may not be so good in some families.

Also, there could be opposite preference in many cases. For example, a mother with already two sons may want to conceive a daughter instead; this could apply anywhere in any culture –India or US, white or brown. So this could be feared to become a screening test, even though the accuracy rate is nowhere close to 100%.
Continue reading “Expecting a boy or a girl? Test baby-gender at home!”

Overseas hate crimes on the rise?

The strong racial biases affecting minorities all over the world

Any topic related to ‘hate’ is no fun to write, but someone has to say it!…

An average human being is a decent and caring person, without major biases against any color, cast or creed. However, there also exists a small %age of individuals who do not fit into this category. There are some who have strong feelings and biases against other social groups or races, to the point that those feelings are churned into hatred over time.

The problem is that these extreme groups or individuals have acted on their feelings of dislike or hatred more often in recent days. Lately, we have seen racial violence all over the places that can be related to hate crimes including the following incidents: Continue reading “Overseas hate crimes on the rise?”

An open letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh

Global issue of racial bias against NRIs and Indians abroad

Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh,
This letter is on behalf of the social commentary site ‘The Indians Abroad’ based out of USA. The letter is prompted by the current incidents of racial attacks against Indians in Melbourne, Australia. However, this long overdue request and suggestion is more towards the need of general awareness of negative bias against Indians abroad, and finding ways to minimize it.

Most of us go abroad for the main reasons of education or for finding better opportunities for ourselves and for our families. The challenges of adapting to the foreign culture and the social issues of minority status are part of our daily living. These issues are often discussed and well understood by most of the Indian communities. The recent incidents of violence against Indians in Australia have exposed the tip of this iceberg – the often ignored racial biases against Indian immigrants that exist in most of the Western society.

The day-to-day racial violence is not-so-common in the developed countries in this day and age; however, the related discrimination is everywhere. The social perception of Indians in the Western society is pretty negative. A large number of NRIs settled abroad are highly skilled professionals – doctors, engineers, scientists and so on…., but the overall view of the Indian community abroad is that of a low class society.

While Indian Govt. is looking into a possible policy to address racial violence abroad, a similar policy or steps are needed to address ever so prevalent racial biases and discrimination. Continue reading “An open letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh”

How to lose your accent!

Communication Tips: Accent softening & accent reduction methods
Accent improvement for effective communications is a key part of personal growth and personal development. As I said before, changing the way we speak is equivalent of breaking a habit.

How to lose your accent!
How to lose your accent!

To break one habit, we need to develop a new one -to ultimately affect the way be speak. This is not going to happen overnight, but you will see an improvement right away, that is if you are serious about losing your accent.
Here are some of the routines to help reduce, and ultimately lose your accent:

Plan ahead: If you are still in India, in the planning stage of immigration, one of the best thing to do is to expose yourself to the spoken English language, Western style and slang, as much as possible. Some of the simple suggestions include: Continue reading “How to lose your accent!”

13 Unlucky reasons to go abroad!

NRI Tips: Worst reasons to leave India and go overseas!

As discussed in a previous article, there are many good reasons to go overseas; but there are plenty of bad ones too. Going overseas is not a guaranteed golden ticket; there are lots of sad stories of broken dreams and heartache. Some of the worst reasons to go abroad are:sxcparadise_torn_paper_white

1.Illusions of Paradise: The overseas land of riches may be rich, but it is no paradise by any means. Adapting into new culture and a new place is not an overnight thing. So, especially for a new immigrants, the challenges could be overwhelming.

2. Blind Job hopes: With global recession everywhere, the unemployment rate in Europe and America is highest in decades. The job and career opportunities have diminished significantly. The demand for foreign work visa is actually down; people are starting to realize the the challenges abroad.

3. Second try might work: If going abroad did not work the first time and nothing has changed, the chances of better encounter on second try are minimal. Many people keep trying again and again, wasting their entire savings; it is just sad! Continue reading “13 Unlucky reasons to go abroad!”

Accent softening and accent reduction Tips!

NRI Tips: Language barrier -the  issue of ‘thick’ accent!

Many surprises await a new immigrant. The challenges of adapting to a foreign country can be very discouraging.
One of the main hurdles that the NRIs face in the Western world is the language barrier and the Indian accent of spoken English. Even if you have a graduate degree in English from India, you are bound to have this problem. The issue is not the knowledge of language, but the way we speak English – the Indian accent; the inability to communicate effectively while talking to a native English speaking person.
The Indian way of speaking English is often branded as a ‘thick’ accent. That basically means that it is not refined for the American/Western ears; it sounds very foreign, like an ‘outsider’
Yes, the spoken language barrier or thick accent is an issue, but it is not your fault. It is a part of the journey; a part of new culture and new rules of living abroad. It is a part of adaptation into the local culture abroad.

The spoken English in India is heavily influenced by our Indian language – our mother tongue. In India, the English teachings mainly focus on grammar and spelling with very little focus on actual pronunciation. Continue reading “Accent softening and accent reduction Tips!”

10 jobs and occupations in high demand!

Job Tips- Top jobs and best occupations for today and tomorrow:

The job market in America is in a bad shape, and keep getting worse. The unemployment rates at 9.7% is the highest in decades. However, as always, there are some bright spots; many occupation continue to be in demand. Based on the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department of Labor, here are the some of the fastest growing  job markets:

  1. Network systems and data communications analyst
  2. Physician assistant
  3. Medical assistant
  4. Computer application software engineer
  5. Physical therapist aide
  6. Personal financial advisor, and financial analyst
  7. Skin care Specialist
  8. Veterinary technologist and technician
  9. Dental hygienist
  10. Pharmacy technician


Continue reading “10 jobs and occupations in high demand!”

Top ten reasons to go abroad!

NRI Tips: 10 reasons to leave India and go overseas – From desi to desi-NRI!

No matter where it leads to, our journey always starts at home. There has to be a good reason to leave the comforts of home – the family, the culture, the country. sxc-big_step_to_success_2501Here are the ten most common reasons to leave home and go overseas:

1. Travel: Traveling to visit different places is one of the best reasons to go abroad. It is a fun and exciting experience to go places, emerging in other cultures is rewarding and adventure. It is the best of the both worlds. If one can afford it, traveling abroad is always full of adventures and new experiences. There are all kinds of online sites that can guide you to match the places with your interests. Traveling is something we don’t do enough.

2. Education: Good schooling is a big investment for our future. One should never under-estimate the value of good education, it builds the base of our lifestyle; it pays life-long dividends for every penny we ever spent on studies. Going abroad to study is not new. Studying abroad is truly an eye opening experience.

3. Family: Many times, family sponsorship is a reason to go abroad – to unite with rest of the family. The immigration rules allow spouse (and in many cases parents along with their younger siblings) to be brought over in many countries. Lots of people go abroad to re-unite with their family. Continue reading “Top ten reasons to go abroad!”