"Shooting the breeze" means making small talk. Listen to Andrea from ESL Basics shares her tip on this idiom. Following the video, let's look at two examples of using this idiom.
"Those guys really like to shoot the breeze!"
This can be said about two friends who enjoy talking and hanging out together all the time in casual settings. This is a positive use of the idiom.
"He prefers to shoot the breeze than work! What will I do with him?"
Obviously, this is not such a positive use of the phrase. If this is overheard at the office, someone's in trouble. Making too much small talk at work can be a problem in some offices in the US, as managers and even colleagues will think that people who spend a lot of time in small talk or non-work related discussions are wasting their time, not productive and not interested in their work. For this reason, some expats who come onsite for the first time may be surprised how much small talk in the office has to do with work and not personal matters!
Jennifer Kumar helps Indians and other expats in the US building understanding and empathetic relationships with their American counterparts at work.
Safe small talk topics by Andrea
Switching from personal small talk to professional small talk